In an age when ‘Chinese triumphalism’ has become a part of the post-Cold War discourse of global capitalism, it is increasingly tempting to write about the Chinese and their cultural behaviour with a quick rhetorical ease (Dirlik 1997). ‘No one who has had first hand experience with Chinese society could fail to note that Chinese people are extremely sensitive to mien-tsu (face) and jen-ch’ing (human obligation) in their interpersonal relationships’, opines Amrose Yeo-chi King (1991: 63). And he continues with the same flourish:

Likewise, no one who has lived in Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or any other overseas Chinese society could be totally unaware of a social phenomenon called kuan-shi (personal relationship). It is no exaggeration to say that kuan-shi, jen-ching, and mien-tsu are key sociocultural concepts to the understanding of Chinese social structure. Indeed, these are sociocultural concepts are part of the essential ‘stock knowledge’ … of Chinese adults in their management of everyday life.