I am from Malaysia and live in Malaysia.I used to view China as a backwards country with a strong military.
My parents has a few apartments that they rented to Chinese students studying in nearby colleges and universities. The way they maintain the house is horrible and everytime they stop renting, we will need to fork out quite a lot of money to repair the house (especially cleaning the house, i have no idea how a porcelain bath tub/toilet seat can be black in color..)
My encounters with Chinese students on campus wasnt too good either. They are ill mannered and talk so loud you can hear them a mile away.
This is more than 20 years ago.My views changed slightly when i went to UK for my university education. The chinese students i met there is very generous, well behaved. When i was invited to their house for parties or to socialize, discuss things we learned in class, their residence is very clean. But then, i thought to myself back then, these students are children of the rich and powerful chinese compared to the chinese students i met in Malaysia. I thought to myself, this is probably the difference between upper class chinese and the middle class chinese.
This is 15 years ago.My family decided to go over to China for vacation, mainly 江南 area, including Shanghai. The scenery is breathtaking. But still there is ill mannered chinese everywhere. litter on the floor.. People talking loudly etc.
This is 10 years ago，i was asked to go to China for a business trip, to Ningbo and Shanghai. And again this year to Changzhou and Hangzhou. I am very very surprised at how China progressed over the years. The roads got better, transportation improved. But most of all, how the people changed.