彭蒙惠英语：20110203 MP3在线课程 Sometimes It's Not the Thought That Counts
Sometimes It's Not the Thought That Counts
by Ching-Ching Ni / (c) 2010, Los Angeles Times. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Taking home gifts from America presents a dilemma for overseas Chinese
George Bao felt like a rich man the first time he flew back to China from America.
He had so many gifts for his family and friends, he was lugging eight cardboard boxes, in addition to his suitcase. That was back in the 1980s, when airlines didn't charge for extra luggage.
As for what the gifts were, the memory makes him laugh. He had gotten friends and family secondhand clothes scavenged from American yard sales.
"My father was so happy," said Bao, who watched the elderly farmer put on his first Western suit, beaming even though it didn't fit well. "Anything I brought back from the States was considered special."
Times have changed. Living standards have risen fast─especially in the wealthier coastal areas. Hand-me-downs from America will no longer do.
And now that China has transformed itself, Chinese-Americans heading home face another gift-giving hitch. It's not so much what the gift is but where it comes from that matters, said Bao:
"They may not all speak English, but everyone in China recognizes those three words. When they see the label "Made in China," they will think, How come you gave me this?"
In other words, buying gifts to carry to China is a major headache.
"It really does consume people when they make preparations to go back to China," said Clayton Dube, associate director of the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California.
Like many visitors to China in the 1980s, Dube once knew just what to get his in-laws. He bought a Japanese color TV in Hong Kong and lugged it on and off trains and buses on his trip to their home in mainland China. Back then, televisions, refrigerators and washing machines were mostly foreign luxury items. Few Chinese families could afford them.
Now all manner of electronics are abundantly available in China.