How to tell the Chinese and Japanese apart

Sometime all you need is a picture (or two in this case). James Fallows, a correspondent for The Atlantic based out of China right now, has posted a great observation about the difference between the Chinese and Japanese. He looked at a simple case of how workers refuel a jet. When it comes to the Japanese, they’re fastidious, orthodox, and dressed to match. With the Chinese, well … anything goes.

I’ll leave it to him to fully explain; don’t want to ruin the delightful juxtaposition of the two photos. I think he really hit something here with the observation that China is all about “finding a way to do things” while Japan is all about “the way of doing things.” It’s a succinct but thoughtful way of looking at things. Though I would caution, as someone very familiar with Chinese culture, that the country’s moving away from this wild wild west image. Or at least they want to. I feel they’ll be more like Japan in 5, 10, 20 years. Or maybe even by next summer’s Beijing Olympics. They’ll be on their best behavior I suspect.

By the way, Fallows has a wonderful blog about China on which he files pretty in-depth posts. He also had a short piece in this month’s Atlantic on tourism to Wolong Panda Reserve that’s worth checking out.