Chinese Characteristics

Chinese Characteristics

Chinese Characteristics is a book by U.S. Christian missionary Arthur Henderson Smith, published in 1890 in the Qing Empire, and four years later in the U.S.A.[1]



Smith identified twenty-five aspects of Chinese culture as encountered in the personality of the individual. His book comprises twenty-five chapters, each titled after one of these aspects and treating it, plus two general chapters treating, respectively, religion and society.


  • I. Face
  • II. Economy
  • III. Industry
  • IV. Politeness
  • V. The Disregard of Time
  • VI. The Disregard of Accuracy
  • VII. The Talent for Misunderstanding
  • VIII. The Talent for Indirection
  • IX. Flexible Inflexibility
  • X. Intellectual Turbidity
  • XI. The Absence of Nerves
  • XII. Contempt for Foreigners
  • XIII. The Absence of Public Spirit
  • XIV. Conservatism
  • XV. Indifference to Comfort and Convenience
  • XVI. Physical Vitality
  • XVII. Patience and Perseverance
  • XVIII. Content and Cheerfulness
  • XIX. Filial Piety
  • XV. Benevolence
  • XXI. The Absence of Sympathy
  • XXI. Social Typhoons (on the pressures of multi-generational households)
  • XXIII. Mutual Responsibility and Respect for Law
  • XXIV. Mutual Suspicion
  • XXV. The Absence of Sincerity


In print

The book was reprinted in 2003, with a preface by Lu Xun scholar Lydia Liu.[2]

See also

Notes & References

  1. ^ Arthur H.Smith, Chinese Characteristics, New York: F. H. Revell Co., 1894
  2. ^ A. H. Smith, Chinese Characteristics, EastBridge, D'Asia Vue, 2003. ISBN 1891936263

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