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Low-profile and Practical Cantonese People

Updated Beijing Time

Generally speaking, the average Cantonese persons, especially those in the city, speak and behave in low-profile or mild ways and conduct themselves with restraint, compared with relatively out-going northerners and pepper-loving and hot-tempered westerners in China.

Some northerners say Cantonese seem to have a lack of the "fighting blood", avoiding confrontations. They are also not as alcoholic as the people up north, preferring drinking tea instead.

They tend to be more concerned about privacy and respecting the personal being of each other in public, being less noisy or offensive. While they care little about other peoples' "business", they are ready to lend a hand when needed.

Paddy from Britain said, "In Guangzhou, I feel at ease, like ordinary Chinese people."

Cantonese tend to be more tolerant of, and adaptive to incoming migrants and other cultures. The galaxy of restaurants offering a wide range of overseas and Chinese cuisines popular with locals, and the increasing population of immigrants in Tianhe is evidence of this welcoming attitude.

While the locals speak Cantonese, a dialect far different from mandarin and other Chinese languages, they are willing to take efforts and initiative to learn and to communicate in mandarin with Chinese immigrants, and respect other cultures like Islam, Christianity and Catholicism.

The city even boasts the oldest Gothic church (Sacred Heart Church on Yide Road), and the oldest Mosque (Huaisheng Mosque on Guangta Road) in China, where regular religious events take place.

But Cantonese people still have the same trait as other Chinese – that fondness for lively conversation with friends, even in public.

Cantonese tend to prefer down-to-earth actions to talking big, and are practical and business minded as Roy from Australia said. Many are easy-going, not as astute-calculation-minded as the Shanghaiese, who are well-known for it in China. The locals here spare less thought for ideology, politics, or other "big" and abstract things than other Chinese.

While Guangzhou is at the forefront of China's Opening and Reform practice, generally the people here are not as "open or westernized" as Shanghaiese. Guangdongers including Cantonese are more traditional-minded and family-oriented.

In life Cantonese care more about food and drink than appearance and dress. That's why Guangdong Cuisine including Cantonese food is well-received as the country's best, and that Cantonese man in under-average casual dress you see going into a shabby food court might well be a millionaire.


Ting Zai Porridge (Sampan Porridge), one of the favourite snacks to the Cantonese people. (file photo)

Many Cantonese females, short and slim, are housewife-minded, making nice soup, the main part of Guangdong Cuisine, and other homey delicacies for their families. They believe that a good soup will keep their husbands' hearts at home. It works. They also prefer lighter makeup (partly due to the humid and hot subtropical climate) and take fewer efforts with dress than their couture-obsessed Shanghaiese peers and relatively heavy-makeup northern counterparts.


Many Cantonese females are housewife-minded. They like making nice soup, the main part of Guangdong Cuisine, and other homey delicacies for their families. (file photo)

The preferred fun of the Cantonese' is travel, making them the most active travelers on Chinese mainland. Even during the Spring Festival, the most home-bound occasion for Chinese, Cantonese take passionate outings to other provinces and even abroad for sightseeing.

In terms of characteristics, Cantonese people probably fall somewhere between their mainland "brothers" and their not-so-distant "cousins" in Hong Kong.

(By Ronald Li)


Editor: Chen Minjie

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