Sleeping Chinese

A whole website full of picture of Sleeping Chinese I found it via Fallows, who adds a caveat  (specifically for Chinese readers) that he is not trying to call Chinese people lazy by posting these. Oddly enough, I think that the perpetually indignant Chinese of the internet might not be as offended by these shots as Fallows (and the site owner) seem to think. Fallows presents these pictures as a counterbalance to the western image of a relentlessly rising army of Chinese worker-automatons. Obviously they can’t be working that hard if they fall asleep in public. Nobody in the West ever falls asleep in public unless they are under 1 year old or really drunk.

Of course these Chinese people are not sleeping. They are xiu xi-ing (休息). One of the many ways Chinese culture is superior to many others is that taking a quick nap is always considered a good idea, especially right after lunch. So while these pictures may not tell you much about the rise of China, they are a nice slice of Chinese life.


  1. Actually, some of the pictures I saw were of travelers — airports, trains, airplanes — and that’s one context in which public sleeping does happen in the West with some regularity. I’ve seen plenty of people sleeping in terminals due to delays and layovers, and there’s whole industries devoted to making you comfortable enough on an airplane that you can actually sleep.

  2. Aside from learning Chinese when I lived in Shanghai, I got to be very good at sleeping on the subway and buses. Given how poor some of the roads were in the outer areas of the city that I lived, sleeping on buses took skill. I almost never missed my stops.

    What is missing from the picture above is the ridiculous amount of goods he was delivering in the bicycle before he took the nap. My favorite thing to see being delivered were huge piles of plastic bottles or styrofoam all bundled together.

  3. Fun site, without the need for cultural assumptions. Spain and Latin America, as well as other parts of Asia and Africa, also partake of the afternoon siesta. Sometimes a good idea is just that — a good idea.

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