Are white people and expats in Asia really worshipped?

Written by Andrew Henderson

Reporting from: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

I spent Sunday night excitedly watching a discussion unfold on Facebook. The only thing missing was popcorn. (Microwaves aren’t so common here.)

A Western female expat living here in Ho Chi Minh City posted a comment on Facebook about where to find expat men who were willing to talk to women from their home country. It triggered a debate with over two hundred comments – some civil, some not – about the status of expat men in Asia.

There are several stereotypical views of foreigners in Asia, and in particular, foreign men. It’s a widely held belief that foreigners can do no wrong and that white men will have Asian girls bowing at their feet from the moment they step off the plane.

The fact that people willingly believe such stereotypes fits my typical view of the West, and of Americans in particular. Far too many Americans hold the view that their country is the only one worth living in and that the world would cease to exist without them. If you don’t want to live, work, and get married in the USA, there must be something wrong with you.

Think about it, no one gripes about all the Asian guys in the United States who want to date white women. Why WOULDN’T they want to date Americans? “America” is so perfect!

So, if you’re from a country where both men and women spend hours preparing nasty zingers they can use to shoot down members of the opposite sex at nightclubs, it would be easy to write off a place like Vietnam where people are more approachable. You might even call it “white people worshipping”.

Generally friendly vs. white people worshipping

It’s true that many places in Asia give off a friendly vibe. You can barely walk into a store in the Philippines without being trampled by at least one – and often two or three – giddy young clerks eager to help.

Yet, it’s easy for cynical Westerners to write that off as “they need your money”; as if anyone who shows a modicum of politeness, friendliness, or common courtesy is a money-grubbing low-life out to take advantage of you.

I could dispel that notion simply by presenting the fact that – in my humble opinion – the world’s friendliest store clerks are actually in Japan. Yes, the country is being QE-ed to death, but they’re far from starving.

Here in Vietnam, and much of Asia, people are pretty friendly. Go to a bar where people speak English and you can have plenty of pleasant conversations with almost anyone you want. “Pick up artists” need not bring their magic tricks and velvet hats to talk to women. I’ve made good business contacts just from approaching people of either sex while I’m out socializing.

Yet again, cynical nationalists often cry “they want your money!” It’s an easy way to paint with a broad brush and stereotype people from other cultures so you don’t have to examine your own country’s problems. Thinking that “dirt poor Asians” are always conniving to steal your money is one way to mentally condition yourself to do this.

The reality is, white people aren’t having their feet bowed at here in Vietnam, or anywhere else in Asia for that matter. The one thing you learn when you spend enough time in enough countries is that we’re all people. There are poor people in the US and I don’t see much bowing going on there, either.

In fact, there are rare occasions when I momentarily forget where in the world I am, simply because the world looks a lot more similar than you might imagine.

What a growing economy in the East means for white people in Asia

And here’s the thing, people in Asia don’t really need your money. Savings rates here in Vietnam – even among poorer families – are among the world’s highest. Ditto for places like China and India.

More and more Vietnamese, and Asians in general, are entering the middle class. Here in Ho Chi Minh City, that could mean a salary of $800-$1,200 a month, which affords a decent life to a young professional. In China, it’s slightly higher.

Even among those who aren’t middle class, life isn’t so tough. Children in most parts of Southeast Asia typically live with their parents until they get married. It turns a $300 a month starting salary into a pleasant life of sipping coffee with friends in cafes.

In my view, a number of people here have it easier than over-indebted families or recent graduates in the West.

To someone who’s never left their jingoist borders, these facts might be missed. To someone unaware of or upset at the rise of developing economies and the fact that they’ve surpassed their bankrupt Western counterparts, it’s easier to imagine that everyone in a place like Vietnam is eating out of garbage cans.

Economic growth in the 21st century will not belong to the West. It will belong to Asia, South America, and perhaps Africa. As Western nations continue to slide into socialism-induced bankruptcy, the more fiscally sound Asian nations will continue to have less and less need for foreigners at all.

That doesn’t mean they’ll turn their back on the world. It simply means they’ll have more resources at their disposal. For example, many large firms in China are now hiring Chinese expats to serve in top management positions; positions formerly filled by Western expats believed to be more capable. These days, however, an intimate knowledge of local culture is more important than being a foreigner.

In Hong Kong, English continues to be pushed to a more and more distant third place among the country’s languages. It used to be English was widely used in official communications – and it still is – but Mandarin and Cantonese are much more important there than they once were.

None of these examples show me anything that suggests that white people are having their rings kissed in Asia.

Sure, many Asian women prefer white guys with blond hair. For some, it’s a fad; for others, it’s a type. However, I don’t hear anyone complaining that the Kardashians seem to share a “type” in the guys they date.

Nor do I hear the Westerners who hurl arrogant stereotypes at Asians accusing the $10-an-hour secretary in Chicago of being “just out for money”. In Vietnam, $1.50 or $2 an hour can go a lot further for a young person than $10 an hour in the USA. Yet few – including the 200 commenters on that Facebook post I mentioned – would accuse an underpaid secretary of being “only out for money”. (And, of course, not all white people living in Asia have money.)

As Asians gain more and more wealth, a lot of men and women are choosing to marry within their culture. Go to China and try to get with a model. You’d be hard-pressed to do it. The wealthiest and most attractive women there, just like in any culture, have their pick of the litter, and it’s a lot easier to marry someone from the same background. They’re not lining up to date white people.

So, if you think white people are living the perfect life in Asia with a parade of women begging them for dates daily, think again. Likewise, not everything here is about money. Yes, many Asian cultures place a high value on entrepreneurship, working hard, and building wealth. Those are the reasons I respect the culture and feel comfortable here.

Just don’t confuse a desire for success with a parasitic eye toward white people.

Andrew Henderson
Last updated: Dec 30, 2019 at 3:49PM

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  1. anarchobuddy

    “Go to China and try to get with a model. You’d be hard pressed to do it. The wealthiest and most attractive women there, just like in any culture, have their pick of the litter, and it’s a lot easier to marry someone from the same background. They’re not lining up to date white people.”

    I’m sure it’s the case that beautiful women have more leverage anywhere, but in China (or so I’ve heard) most women have their pick of the litter due to China’s one child policy. Cultural attitudes have favored male children because of their perceived ability to be better caretakers of elderly parents. This policy has had the horrible consequences of leading to female infanticide. Thus, there is a huge gender imbalance in China, where there are not nearly enough women for every male to have a mate. So, it could be the case that white women will have better chances in China, no?

    • nomadcapitalist

      Perhaps, but the sample size isn’t as large and there are bigger cultural issues, I suspect.

    • kartashok

      But thanks to the racist and sexist WHITE MEDIA which basically portrays Asian men as being poorly endowed impotent souls, hardly any white women even want to go to China.

  2. R Jerome Harris

    Well, spoken from a White man’s perspective but there are many pieces missing. (And I am not surprised). I am an African American who has lived many years in The Philippines, Thailand, Japan and spent several months in China and in Mongolia.

    I know that White people are viewed by Asians as the persons who “have the wealth.” One Thai person put it to me this way: “The Thai people are not racist, we just ‘prefer’ white skin.” Asians really have not evolved to the point of understanding racism as Americans do. It is a relatively new concept.

    I was called the N-Word by a Thai passerby, but was the “way” he said it that told me that some White American or European taught him the hateful expression. What connection can a Thai who has never been to America make with such a word? None.

    Skin whitener products are big business in Thailand and in Japan. Thai women avoid exposure to the sun like a plague. Dark-skinned Thai do not get the “good jobs” that involve exposure with the public – especially – with visiting foreigners. You do not see dark-skinned Thai airline stewardesses, bank tellers, etc.

    Driving from any one of the two Thai airports you will see billboards of White European or American models. The few advertisements you see along the roads that have Thai models in them, their skin is so bleached White, they look White.

    Black people are not preferred. If no Black people lived in Thailand, it would be OK with most Thais. Unless, you have money.

    Money is everything to Thais because they need it to take care of their families. If you happen to be Black and you have money, “What’s love got to do with it” as one Thai lady told me.

    A White friend of mine (pale skinned guy from Australia) was walking down a village road when a elderly Thai woman sitting with her daughter or grand daughter yelled out to my white friend – who they did not know – to “give daughter baby.” In other words, they wanted him to have sex with the young woman to make her pregnant.

    In Thailand, light-skinned children are a prize and hold much value in the Thai family. They are a goldmine for the family because that child – when it grows up – will have privileges a darker skinned Thai child will never have.

    Thai parents are desperate for English speaking foreigners to teach their children English. They will give you all they have if you tutor them … if you are the right color.

    I am a teacher by profession. But Thai parents will not allow Black persons – no matter what your credentials – teach their Children. They want a Farang – a White person to teach them.

    I was at one of Thailand very popular 5-star hotels awaiting my turn to serviced. I was next in line. Yet, a White couple showed up with their bags in tow and instead of looking at me and saying, “May I help you” the hotel check-in clerk bypassed me as if I was not there and addressed the White couple. But here is the thing: The White couple did not have the decency or courtesy to say, “He was here before us.”

    In Thailand and in Japan, White-skin is “preferred.” But when all of the layers are peeled back, it is really White people worship.

    What readers have been given by Mr. Henderson is a White mans perspective and that is all. I am not saying that what he is saying is all in error. I am saying a lot is missing.

    The things in the world cannot always be told all the time through the eyes of a White person.

    • Andrew Henderson

      I will agree that cultures in Asia and other parts of the developing world don’t share progressive views on race or even on the absence of a sort of caste system. “Racist” isn’t the damning word it is in the west. I would argue there are plenty of Thais who don’t want white people in the country, either. That country is pretty imperious.

    • c_bell

      Wonderfully put.

    • Kallen Diggs

      Amen, my brother. A black person has a better chance of getting with an Asian girl and having better job success in the U.S. than in Thailand or Japan. Have you had the same experience in The Philippines?

  3. c_bell

    You only really have to look around you to see your place in society in Asia. On the billboards promoting the aspirational premium product, next to one about Loreal’s new skin whitening formula. Being of Asian decent myself the fawning bothers me greatly (especially the inverted consequences) but let’s not pretend it doesn’t exist.

  4. kartashok

    So what? White women in Asia have the princess complex. With all the Asian men (who’re painted by your media to be effeminate animals) smiling at you and serving you to keep you happy, whilst the master (white man) has his fun with both you and his several Asian side girls.

    • maverick

      couldnt put it any better

  5. maverick

    Indians (natives) are a dead race. get fkd

  6. maverick

    Yet they somehow discriminate against black people, even though black people are in Hollywood 100 times bigger than Asians are

  7. maverick

    Thats bullshit. Im not even white and i know how much whites are worshiped/admited in Asia. no one thinks of them as losers, you have a skewed perception because of the whole “cant get white girls, goes for asian girls” myth. They are the most welcomed and desired race in Asia.
    It’s 100 times easier to get a job as a white guy in asia than if youre black. take my word for that

  8. maverick

    Actually, given the skin whitening all around the world, and given how much east asian love white beauty, i would take a blind guess that every race would love whites to be alive and to be friends with them.
    Funny how youre indian but overlook the fact how much your race sucks up to whites when they come to USA or when whites go to India.
    You guys date outside of your race, but only date and marry whites. Racism?

  9. Guest

    yeah, you’ve never been to asia i think

  10. maverick

    Yeah i think you have never been to Asia if you think so.
    Half of the comments to this article are yours, you must feel pretty inferior to whites? And why are you calling them infidels, are you muslim? Because If you are then you are not welcomed in East Asia by definition (buddhists not being people of the book, islam being non existent in east asia)
    deluded, uneducated peasant