Living in China has enabled me for the first time in my life experience “culture shock”. I had heard about this and thought I had experienced it when I moved from Canada to the UK. But now that I have lived here I truly know what it is.
There are so many things about life here that is entirely different from what I am used to. One thing that any foreigner will notice about life in China is the lack of “personal space” and privacy.
It’s very common for Chinese people to ask what us westerners would consider “personal questions”. Things like “how much money do you make?”, “how much did your …. cost ?” etc. Financial matters are normally a very private and personal thing in the west, but not here. They ask each other these questions all the time and us foreigners are even more interesting as they are curious about our financial matters.
If you are a woman you will be asked “how old are you?”, “are you married?” – questions normally that are inappropriate to ask complete strangers. You may even be asked “how much do you weigh?”. I am not actually sure what questions are considered inappropriate here. Maybe anything can be asked of anyone, I am not sure.
In any event, if a Chinese person asks you a question that you think is too personal don’t take offense. It’s just what they do. If it happens outside of China you could kindly inform them that such questions aren’t appropriate as they likely have no idea and you can save them any future embarassment. If you are inside of China you won’t be able to change everyone but you could still explain that such questions are personal in your culture and you’d prefer not to answer. Just don’t take offense if you are asked something you’ve never been asked before.