The research has attracted some further media attention and some Chinese academics, whilst not directly contradicting my notions of the ‘unheard’ and the ‘unseen’, relate what might be another important aspect of Chinese ‘character’ – the sensibility of not wanting to confront others’ anti-social behaviour.
I do find this both interesting and important but cannot help feeling that for many Chinese (and the survey seems to be backing this up) spitting is not a problem for them, anti-spitting campaigns are not widely known about and even if you (in essence) would prefer spitting not to be prevalent you can still, if e.g. Chinese/Inidian/South Korean, not see/hear it. An example of this was evidenced by each of my guides in Kuala Lumpur, Seoul and Shanghai who all ‘learned’ to see/hear spitting (as much as me) only once they were more sensitised to it. What I mean by this is that Liew, Eunice and Isabelle each noticed less spitting than I did at first but then noticed more and more as our observations went on. In Shanghai in particular it wasn’t uncommon for me to ask Isabelle ‘did you see/hear that’ and for her (she is a non-spitter from a non-spitting family) to reply simply that she had not.