Dexter: You're not Chinese.
Masuka: I'm not?
Non-Asians mistaking that all Asian peoples are of one particular ethnicity. It is most commonly applied to East Asian countries such as China and Japan, but confusion may set in between South Asian countries as well, like conflating India with the Middle East.
Asia is a large and culturally diverse place, but East Asian cultures often get lumped together into one general mishmash. People who are generally unfamiliar with the intricacies of Asian cultures will often confuse the country of origin of various phenomena, such as karate being a shortcut term for any Asian martial art, when karate is specifically Ryukyuan in origin. In places where the Asian and Nerdy trope exists, Asians from a variety of different cultures will be lumped together in the same stereotype.
It's something of an ongoing controversy over whether people should be able to identify the ethnicity of Asian people based on their physical characteristics. Audiences sometimes react negatively when an Asian actor plays a character with a different ethnic ancestry, such as an actor of Japanese descent playing a Korean, because it carries the implication that Asian ethnicities are not physically distinguishable. However, other people (such as Margaret Cho) insist that ethnicity is not always so obvious to the naked eye, and that telling a Thai from a Tibetan can be as difficult as telling a Dane from a German.
Part of the problem is that many Americans of non-Asian descent insist on treating "Asian" itself as one big ethnicity. An especially common variant of this trope is "All Asians Are Chinese" — which, again, is somewhat understandable, both because Chinese (specifically, Cantonese) have been the most prolific Asian immigrant group in the United States (as well as the majority of the world); because so many East Asian and Southeast Asian cultures (Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, etc.) were culturally influenced by China; and that there have been sizable Chinese diasporas all across the Southeast Asia with many Thais and Filipinos having some Chinese ancestry and nearly all Vietnamese people having Chinese ancestry (to the point where Vietnamese people now lie between Northeast Asian and Southeast Asian populations genetically). By contrast, note the odd-seeming (to American eyes, at least) British use of "Asian" mainly as a reference to Pakistanis and related peoples; in the British census, "Asian" and "Chinese" are in fact even two different categories.
As for South Asia and the Middle East, many people ignorantly lump together Indians, Arabs, Sri Lankans, and sometimes even Indonesians as one race of brown-skinned Muslims, even though most Indians are Hindu (though Islam is the largest religious minority), Buddhism and Sikhism are also popular in the region, and many Arabs are Christian even if they pray in Arabic to Allah, since that's just the Arabic word for God. Religion aside, these are all distinct cultures with little in common.
Related to As Long as It Sounds Foreign. A Sub-Trope of Mistaken Nationality. Stepfather to the Far East. Compare Identical-Looking Asians, which is when a character in-universe fails to distinguish Asian individuals from each other. See also Dragons Up the Yin Yang, which is an iconographic shorthand for this trope. Latino Is Brown is a related trope, where people from Latin America are thought to be one single race despite their wide diversity.
- In Gosick, most of the Sauville residents guess wrongly on Kazuya's country of origin, the common answer among them being that he's Chinese. One kid even calls him "Mr. Chinese" despite Kazuya's vehemence and, when they introduce themselves properly, comments that his name is weird. This is hardly surprising, given the relative lack of international travel during The Roaring '20s.
- Rurouni Kenshin;
- An apparently Japanese man turns out to be a Chinese feng shui practitioner.
- Inverted when Kenshin finds a Western man waiting for him at home, he greets him with a "Bonjour." Turns out the man is actually German.
- In Black Lagoon, Revy refers to Shenhua as "Chinglish" and is corrected and told that Shenhua is in fact, Taiwanese. Note that Revy is Chinese herself, though Chinese-American. And a New-Yorker at that. At one point in the story where another Chinese characters tries speaking to her in Cantonese Revy replies that she doesn't understand a word of it.
- Likewise Inverted in Azumanga Daioh. In order to show off her English skills, Yukari goes up to a blonde, blue-eyed man and starts speaking English to him. Turns out he's German.
- Inverted in Axis Powers Hetalia; at least twice, England is mistaken for an American. Germany and Prussia also sneak into America disguising themselves as Americans.
Random man: Hmm...you look kinda German to me, you couldn't be...
- Inverted in one Ijiwaru Baa-san (Granny Mischief) strip: the title character watches a television report about the Apollo 11 lunar landing, and congratulates the first foreigner she sees in broken English. Unfortunately, said foreigner was Russian. Granny tries to pass off her action as "all foreigners look alike" while her neighbors accuse her of being offensive on purpose.
- Inverted in Hajime no Ippo. Takamura says of a blond boxer that they know how to make them tough in America. When told he's Australian (America isn't even in the same division), Takamura just stutters "but... but he's white!"
- Played With: Magic Knight Rayearth has Fuu pointing out how the various aspects of Fahren seem to be a bizarre mishmash of various Asian countries; which she then lists. Princess Asuka is not amused by the strange person from another world talking about countries she's never heard of.
- Gundam Build Fighters uses this as a small joke: the American character Nils Nielson builds a very Japanese-looking Gunpla based on samurai, going so far as to write its model number in kanji and wear traditional hakama to his battles. But for all his Japanophilia, the martial art he uses in his fighting style is Chinese, which is Lampshaded by the show's Japanese cast: "Wait, he calls it the 'Sengoku Astray', but he's using Chinese techniques?"
- Discussed and averted in Delicious in Dungeon. Kabru's party members assume that Rin must know about all of the "Eastern" adventurers, since she's Eastern herself. Not only are there a variety of Eastern cultures, Rin was actually born on the island where most of the story takes place, so she's not as familiar with them as everyone thought.
- There's a French comic where this is both invoked (a Chinese mook tells his [white] boss he can easily pass for a Korean) and inverted (another mook tells the boss that to Orientals, all whites look the same).
- One of the dumber early Silver Age Avengers stories had Captain America going to Vietnam and confronting a general who is a giant sumo wrestler. A sumo wrestler, the national sport of Japan, as a high officer in Vietnam less than 20 years after the despised Japanese occupation. Sure.
- Invoked in the first issue of Steelgrip Starkey and the All-Purpose Power Tool when a Jerkass construction foreman tries to identify Sharri Barnett's ethnicity using a variety of slurs (she's Filipino).
- In the Teen Titans tie-in to Infinite Crisis, Risk calls his Japanese teammate Bushido "The Chinese kid." Mirage quickly corrects him, but he dismissively replies "whatever."
- In 1942 the US State Department developed a comic book for US personnel in China called "How to Spot A Jap." The book relied on stereotypical depictions of Japanese.
- There's the Marvel character Leiko Wu, who is a Chinese woman with a Japanese first name (Leiko seems to be a poorly translated version of the Japanese name Reiko).
- The DC Comics Alternate Timeline Crisis Crossover event Flashpoint was criticized when a map of the world◊ was released that listed an "Asian Capital" in China, since it fell into this trope.
- An Animesque Avengers cover had Spider-Woman dressed as a Sailor Senshi, Cannonball dressed as a Super Sentai character and so on. The problem? The issue is set in Hong Kong, not Japan. The issue's artist, Mike Deodato, even made sure to distance himself and make it clear he did not illustrate the cover.
- Lady Shiva, the fighter who taught Bruce Wayne the art of unarmed combat in the Batman comics, is usually depicted as Chinese and is sometimes given the improbable surname of "Wusan", but her title of "Shiva" is Hindu and describes the name of an Indian god (and a male god, no less). Just to add to the confusion, Shiva has in the past been drawn as a Caucasian woman, even when it's clear from the context that she is supposed to be Chinese, and actually grew up in Detroit Michigan.
- Lampshaded in an issue of Black Panther, where the writer threw in a dig at the then-recent Iron Fist/Wolverine mini-series. When briefly recounting the ending of the mini (which saw Iron Fist becoming the protector of a group of mythical dragons from K'un Lun that had become stranded in Tokyo), Everett Ross asks why would they leave Chinese dragons in Japan.
- In a much earlier issue, Ross tries speaking in Cantonese while ordering some Chinese takeout. The owner is completely flummoxed by the order, which causes T'Challa to state that Ross must not realize that the owner is actually Filipino.
- The same writer later did Deathstroke, where he had several other examples. He seems to be fond of this subverting this trope.
Robin: And why is a Hmong girl using Japanese swords?Ravager: Caught a sale at Walmart.
- This exchange from when Robin fought Ravager:
Hosun: Dude. I'm six-two. You ever see a six-two Chinaman before? I mean, other than Yao Ming? I'm Korean, doofus. Speak American.
- And then again when some Hmong characters tried to talk to Hosun, one of Deathstroke's associates, in their language:
- In an old issue of Justice League Europe, The Flash bonded with the Japanese heroine Doctor Light. During their discussion, Flash said that his girlfriend Linda was also of Asian (Korean-American) descent, but quickly corrected himself and stated that he didn't mean to imply that all Asians are alike.
- Early Iron Man Comics had the Mandarin (who is Chinese) using Karate (which is from Okinawa/Japan).
- The WWII-set Wonder Woman stories of the mid-late 70s featured a villain called Kung, a Japanese-American Imperial ultra-nationalist zealot. His costume's Chest Insignia is a yin-yang symbol and his animorphism powers are said to be inspired by the various animal-style forms of kung fu. Both of those things, and really the name "Kung" itself, are Chinese. This would be bad enough, but it goes against the grain of the character's core concept — the uber-patriots who worshiped the Emperor weren't known for remotely tolerating anything Chinese.
- A-Force attracted some controversy when someone decided that Nico Minoru needed a costume... and that costume was a cheongsam, a traditional Chinese garment, despite Nico being Japanese-American. Thankfully, the creative team caught on quickly, and the cheongsam was replaced with something closer to Nico's usual Goth sensibilities.
- Averted with New Super-Man. The book's star was going to be called Kenji Kong, but Gene Luen Yang decided to rename him Kenan Kong so that people wouldn't think he'd given a Chinese character a Japanese name.Explanation
- An issue of Totally Awesome Hulk has a group of Asian-American heroes teaming up for a charity event. While going out to dinner afterwards, Silk assumes Ms Marvel doesn't eat beef because she's a Hindu. Ms. Marvel quickly corrects her and says that her family is Pakistani, not Indian, and that she's a Muslim, not a Hindu.
- Referenced in Atomic Robo here.
- Discussed in the Mass Effect/Warhammer 40,000 crossover The Mission Stays The Same; Kasumi (Japanese) goes by the alias "Zhao Daiyu" (Chinese) during the team's visit to Illium, noting that fewer and fewer humans know the difference and that aliens wouldn't get it if you gave them a lecture on the subject.
- In Ghost Of You Cho Chang has a Tokyo apartment. Yes, this was written by Tara and Raven, in case you're asking.
- Parodied in this Worm snippet; turns out, Asia is a big place with a lot of cultures who have a lot of grudges against each other, and Nicaragua isn't even in Asia, but you try telling Lung that.
I am a dragon. You are now Asian.
- In the oneshot Only Truly Dead, this applies even within the Asian-inspired Avatar-verse. An Air Nomad woman is able to pass as a Fire Nation woman by changing her attire and name. Air Nomads are Tibetan-inspired while the Fire Nation is Japanese-inspired.
- 7 Faces of Dr. Lao:
Fat Cowboy: ...Looks like a Jap to me.
Toothless Cowboy: Naaaw. He's Chinese.
Fat Cowboy: How do you know?
Toothless Cowboy: 'Cause I ain't stupid!
- Mentioned in Falling Down, when a police officer being asked to translate snarks that he is Japanese, unlike the robbed store owner who is Korean. This example is especially hilarious, as the Japanese cop was played by a Korean actor, while the Korean storeowner was played by a Chinese actor.
- In Brain Smasher A Love Story, the Chinese assassination team is constantly having to say, "We are not Ninjas!" They are happy the one time someone else says it first. "They're not ninjas. They're Chinese." So happy that they don't beat any one up there.
- Invoked in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, where Harold (who is Korean) is repeatedly mistaken for Chinese/Japanese. Kumar is Indian, but mistaken for Arab in the second movie (interesting, because there is much less of an ethnic link between Indians and Arabs than between Koreans and the Chinese and Japanese). Being correctly identified as Korean in the second film proves to be bad for Harold, as the inept Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security immediately assumes he's North Korean.
- John Cho, while being Korean, was still cast as Hikaru Sulu, who is of Japanese descent, for the Star Trek (2009) reboot movies. J. J. Abrams himself was initially concerned with this casting decision knowing it would potentially throw off Asian viewers, but the OG Sulu, George Takei vaguely assured him that Sulu as a character, even though he was just Japanese-Filipino, represented "all of Asia" on the Enterprise.
- J. J. Abrams strikes again with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The criminal gang Kanjiklub has a Japanese-influenced name, yet its members are played by Indonesian actors from the Raid series.
- The Zero Gravity short film Cha Cha Chinaman drops this in at the beginning of Part 2.
- Some people criticized Memoirs of a Geisha for casting Chinese and Korean actors in Japanese roles. Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi expressed the difficulty of speaking English (which she learned for the film) with a Japanese accent in one interview, saying it was like a native English speaker having to speak Russian with a Chinese accent.
- In Goldfinger, Harold Sakata (Japanese) plays Oddjob (Korean), even though in the book Goldfinger's Korean Mooks hate being called "Japs" by Americans.
- In Angels Revenge, Keiko has a Japanese name and wields a katana, but is introduced as being from... Vietnam. Technically it's not impossible.
- The Mask of Fu Manchu shows all the peoples of Asia rallying behind the resurrected spirit of Genghis Khan who would lead them to conquer the West. Never mind that most Asians, including the Chinese, would view Genghis Khan as a foreign invader rather than a beloved leader. There's also a statue of Buddha in Fu Manchu's lair, but he later tries to sacrifice Sheila to the Hindu god Shiva.
- In Christopher Lambert's J.F. Lawton's The Hunted the very Chinese John Lone plays uber-ninja Kinjo. It isn't so bad at first, unless you can tell the difference between Hong Kong and Japanese accented English; but when the script calls for him to exchange dialogue with actual Japanese actors in Nihonggo, his lack of fluency becomes painfully obvious even to someone who only knows 3 words of Japanese.
- In Bend It Like Beckham, Indian lead Jess gets yellow-carded when she reacts to being called a "Paki," which is considered a horrific racial slur. Also, when her father complains about not being allowed to play cricket in his youth on racial grounds, she points out that Nasser Hussain is (at the time the film was made) captain of England. Her mother says "He's a Muslim. They're different" (they're Sikhs)— a line which there is an Ironic Echo of later in the film in an inversion of the trope, when her sister disapproves of Jess having an English boyfriend:
Jess: He's not English, he's Irish!Jess' sister: It's the same thing!
- The Karate Kid (2010) reboot movie is actually about a boy going to China and learning kung fu. The boy never does anything relating to the Japanese karate. It's basically an Artifact Title, though it's at least handwaved in a Title Drop where Cheng uses it as an insult.
- Played around with in the courtroom drama True Believer. A murder suspect was identified as the killer in a lineup. His defense attorney tries to get the cop who supervised the lineup to admit that all of the other people in it were Chinese, while the defendant is Korean, which could have helped set him apart from the decoys. The question is stricken by the judge, however, who rules that the detective is not an expert in ethnicity and could not distinguish between them by sight alone. Plus he had long hair and goatee (resembling the killer) which none of the rest did. Also, he was accused of committing a murder to get into a Chinese-American gang, which no one seems to find odd. To top it off, the actor playing the suspect is a Japanese-American.
- In the original Iron Man comic book, Tony Stark met professor Yinsen in Vietnam during the Vietnam war. Now, Yinsen is a Chinese rather than Vietnamese name, but the comic book character comes from a fictional place called "Timbetpal," so it's at least possible he is of Chinese descent (ethnic Chinese people do exist in Vietnam). However, the origin of Iron Man was later retconned so that he met Yinsen while both of them were being held captive by terrorists in Afghanistan. The Iron Man movie follows the retconned origin story, except that in it Yinsen comes from a village in Afghanistan and clearly looks like a man of Middle Eastern descent (he's played by the Iranian-American actor Shaun Toub), but inexplicably he still has a Chinese name (albeit pronounced in a way that could pass off as Middle Eastern).
- The flashback scene in Iron Man 3 confirms that his full name is Ho Yinsen (they briefly met years before Tony's capture, but Tony forgot). Tony even states that he never met a man named Ho before.
- Played for comedy in Black Dynamite, in which Vietnam War veteran Black Dynamite recalls a mortally wounded Viet Cong child and repeatedly calls him Chinese. He doesn't seem to be aware that Vietnam is not in China. And later in the movie, Black Dynamite is revealed to be a fluent speaker of Mandarin.
- Gung Ho is about American factory workers and Japanese auto executives learning to work together. The phrase "gung ho" is actually derived from Chinese words meaning "work together." Ironically, it was coined as an Americanism by soldiers in WWII who were fighting the Japanese.
- Lampshaded and mocked in The Tuxedo after his character, Jimmy Tong, comes close to getting the crap beat out of him by an angry bike messenger:
- Jimmy's friend: Hey, I thought all you Chinese people knew karate.note
Jimmy: Not everyone Chinese is Bruce Lee.
- In Street Kings, Ludlow invokes this to goad the Korean gangsters into beating him up and stealing his car.
Thug Kim: Konnichiwa is Japanese. It's insultin' to Koreans.Ludlow: How am I supposed to tell if you can't?Thug Kim: Fuck's that supposed to mean, white boy?Ludlow: It means you got eyes like apostrophes, you dress white, talk black and drive Jew, so how am I supposed to know what kind of zipperhead, dog-munching dink you are if you don't?Boss Kim: Yo. Do you know who the fuck we are?Ludlow: Yeah. A couple of panheads buyin' a machine gun out of a trunk.
- Cannonball Run 2 brings back Jackie Chan who, in Cantonese, orders a drink at an American bar. Nonplussed, the bartender raises his voice: "Does anyone here speak Oriental?"
- On a Western promotional poster for the Chinese film Hero, Jet Li's character holds a katana.
- In the 1942 Jungle Book, the jungle of the title (which is in central India) includes an old Buddhist temple on a lake that is guarded by a gigantic cobra. This is justifiable, since, while Buddhism (except for Tibetan Buddhism) has pretty much disappeared from India in the modern era, there were many Buddhist temples in India in ancient times. The real problem has to do with Mowgli's village, where the women wear saris (common throughout India) but their husbands wear turbans (the traditional headgear of the Sikhs, who live only in northwestern India!). Of course, there has been intermarriage between Hindus and Sikhs, but even then it would be extremely unlikely for the villagers to wear both traditional costumes, or for them to be gender-specific. Though some Hindu men wear turbans as well, they don't so in this uniform manner.
- Piccadilly has an Asian female named Shosho (a Japanese name) who engages in the Japanese tradition of keeping a dagger on the wall. But she does a Thai-inspired dance and is referred to as a Chinese girl. She's played by Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong.
- In [REC], Cesar goes on a rant about the Japanese family in which he mixes aspects of Japanese and Chinese culture.
- In Sushi Girl, a Japanophile crook has built what he intends to be a Japanese-themed lair, but one of his comrades notes that the actual decor is "a little Ming Dynasty."
- In Battleship, Hopper repeatedly thinks the Japanese Nagata should know the Chinese book The Art of War just because he's Asian. Luckily, The Art of War is studied in Japan as well as most other militaries throughout the world.
- In Cradle 2 the Grave, Jet Li plays a Taiwanese Intelligence agent named Su sent to the US to retrieve a stolen shipment of "black diamonds" (actually, synthetic plutonium). When Su and Fait go to see "Jump" Chambers, a crime lord currently serving a sentence in his luxurious cell, Chambers tries to speak to Su only to be informed by Su that he doesn't speak Korean. Chambers just shrugs, saying that one of his Korean hookers taught him a few phrases. In this case, it's obvious that Chambers just doesn't care.
- Big Fish: Edward's flashback to his war career has him parachuting in to a deliberately vague military camp in Asia. The logos and uniforms are made up, the time period isn't given, and Edward pre-parachuting is even reading a book called "How To Speak Asian". The Asian actors in this scene also speak different languages; the puppeteer speaks Tagalog, the soldier who escorts him offstage speaks Mandarin Chinese, the twins speak Cantonese, and the other soldiers speak Korean. This was done to keep the scene from setting itself in a specific war, and also possibly because Edward, as an American, might not be able to tell the difference between different Asian cultures.
- Another Tim Burton film, Beetlejuice, has a subversion. The Deetzes order Chinese food for their first night in the Maitlands' rural Connecticut home. Delia, who is a highly cultured New York yuppie (or at least thinks she's highly cultured), is disgusted that the only Chinese restaurant in town offers Cantonese cuisine (from southeastern China) when she wanted Szechuan fare (from southwestern China).
- All About Steve has this in-universe with Ken Jeong's character, Angus, played by a Korean actor, who states that he's from Vietnam, and swears in Mandarin Chinese and Japanese.
- Minor examples in The Sorcerer's Apprentice:
- While in Chinatown during a festival, Balthazar and Dave battle the Evil Sorcerer Sun Lok, who turns a dragon costume into a real dragon. After defeating him, Balthazar and Dave pretend to be cops and go out to meet actual NYPD officers, who have just arrived. Balthazar tells them that someone just had too much sake, prompting Dave to loudly tell him that sake is Japanese not Chinese, earning an annoyed look from Balthazar. Luckily, the real cops ignore Dave's remark. After they pass, Balthazar tells Dave that he was "in character" (i.e. only pretending to be culturally ignorant).
- Balthazar uses this trope to Bluff the Impostor. The Big Bad is disguised as an old Chinese woman. Balthazar addresses her in Cantonese, and he/she says in delight, "Ah, you speak Mandarin!" Balthazar promptly punches the impostor, correcting his mistake by way of Bond One-Liner.
- Pineapple Express: The film is very vague about exactly who the "Asians" are that Ted's gang is fighting. The Asian actors come from a variety of nationalities, they speak nothing but heavily accented English that sounds like a foreign language if you're not paying attention, and what little we see of their lair is decorated in gang paraphernalia more than anything Asian.
Saul: He's in a big war with the Asians.
Dale: Asians? What kind of Asians? Indians are technically Asian.
Saul: I don't know, man! Asians!
- Bulletproof Monk:
- Lampshaded by Kar. Who would expect a Chinese theater to be owned and operated by a Japanese man?
- Kar tries to pass off the Monk as a (Chinese) Shaolin to Jade, but she immediately points out that Shaolin have to completely shave their heads. She accurately identifies him as a Tibetan Buddhist (Chow Yun-fat is Chinese). Conversely, the Monk shows familiarity with Sikh tenets to an Indian cab driver, who then expresses that he'd almost think the Monk was a Sikh himself but for not having enough hair (observant Sikh men don't shave or cut their hair).
- Hard Ticket to Hawaii: Mr. Chang is described as half-Chinese, but his office is decorated with Japanese swords.
- No Escape takes place in an unspecified southeastern Asian country bordering Vietnam. The locals speak Cambodian, Thai and Burmese at different points in the movie.
- Averted in Kill Bill. One of O-Ren Ishi's subordinates in the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia, objects that she's half Chinese-American (she promptly cuts his head off). Similarly, Bill warns Beatrix that Pai Mei, the Chinese master of Bak Mei kung fu he sends her to train with, hates the Japanese, and not to mention them in front of him.
- In Kick-Ass 2, Chris "The Motherfucker" D'Amico hires a Chinese ex-Triad enforcer for his supervillain gang and makes him a Mongol warrior called "Genghis Karnage", lamely justifying this as "just a character archetype". "Genghis" goes along with it because he's Only in It for the Money, but Chris's right hand man Javier calls him out for this.
- Cantu in Sinbad of the Seven Seas is described as Chinese and liberally quotes Confucius, but he's played by a Japanese actor and credited as "Samurai".
- The Killer Elite. Yuen is referred to as Chinese, but it's not made clear whether the country he's returning to is PRC China or Taiwan. He can also fight with a katana well enough to defeat Toko, a Japanese ninja master.
- Actually subverted in The Toll of the Sea. It's an adaptation of Madame Butterfly - which is set in Japan. It however moves the setting to China to accommodate the Chinese actress playing the lead.
- This is one of the main issues with Crazy Rich Asians where despite being hailed as a movement for diversity by having an all-Asian cast, majority of them are Chinese and the characters that they played are Singaporean Chinese. This led to many accusations for not prominently featuring non-Chinese South and Southeast Asians who are merely background characters in the film and that the title itself is very misleading. The director himself had to stress out that not all Asian nationalities are going to be feature in the film and that the story focuses on a Chinese-American's journey of meeting the Singaporean Chinese upper class.
- Aladdin is the Southwest Asian variant: the Kingdom of Agrabah has a culture that's a mix of Arabic, Indian and Persian. The Sultan's palace is designed after the Taj Mahal, a building in Agra, India. The name of the country is a portmanteau of Agra and Baghdad.
- In the James Bond novels:
- Carefully averted in the Jules Verne novel Around the World in 80 Days. When Passepartout arrives in Japan, the narration makes a point of mentioning how different the Japanese and Chinese are in appearance.
- Terry Pratchett's Agatean Empire (part of the Discworld) deliberately confuses Chinese elements (Great Wall, one syllable family names like Hong etc) and Japanese ones (Sumo, Ninjas) as well as Western pseudo-Oriental things such as fortune cookies and Willow Pattern plates. It is a parody, after all.
- Later works add to the "Agatean" mix: a sub-region called Bhang Bhang Duc introduces a suspiciously Thailand-like place, and a there is also a Korea-like place with a fondness for fermented cabbage called grimchi.
- A possible straight example is Klatch, which is generally a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Middle East, or at least the Arabian Nights variant. But Klatchian cuisine is generally suggested to be Indian/Chinese. Possibly justified by the later retcon that Klatch is both a country and a continent. The Compleat Discworld Atlas clarifies this even more: Klatch covers the equivalent of a swathe of turf over North and East Africa into the Middle-East and beyond and has elements of everything from Libyan through Arabian to Persian and Pakistani. The Discworld's India/Pakistan is hinted to be an Expy of India under the Moghul Empire, and there is a hint that a Discworld "Israel" is in there somewhere as another fizzing-fused device in the volatile mix.
- Our Dumb World: From the entry on Japan: "1942: Japan watches on in embarrassment as a confused U.S. first blames Chinese, then Korean, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, and finally even Hawaiian forces for the strike on Pearl Harbor." Also, from their entry on China: "1999: NATO mistakenly bombs the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia, claiming all the buildings look exactly the same."
- Portrayed in Snow Crash when a mafioso uses the slur "nips" when referring to Asians and another character corrects him, saying that the word is short for Nipponese and would only refer to the Japanese.
- In Sho-shan y la Dama Oscura Played straight because it's normal that people call anime Chinese cartoons or tell Violeta to stop speaking Chinese when she's speaking Japanese. It's also then subverted since Luis Monsalve and his wife Dagmar have a game where they try to hold a conversation in Chinese (Luis) and Japanese (Dagmar) so their daughters can know how different both languages and cultures are.
- In the poem "Growltiger's Last Stand" in T.S. Elliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats", Gilbert's army of Siamese cats (which are Thai) are referred to as a "fierce Mongolian horde" as well as a now-pejorative term for Chinese people.
- In Karen Chance's Curse the Dawn, a cross-dresser says "I'd bind my feet up like a geisha" in order to fit into a pair of designer shoes.
- J. K. Rowling used fairly stereotypical names for most of the characters in Harry Potter, but Cho Chang ended up being accused of this trope (since she was described as Chinese, but while "Chang" is a common Chinese surname, "Cho" is a Chinese/Korean surname, or a Japanese given namenote ). In the films she is played by Katie Leung, who is of Chinese descent.
- The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick is set in a Japanese-occupied America in a timeline where the Axis won WWII, but heavily references Chinese philosophy and religion, with several Japanese (and Japanese-influenced American) characters practicing Taoism and consulting the I-Ching. Dick was called out for this by his Japanese translator.
- It's possible, however, that this is the result of the Japanese developing a Foreign Culture Fetish for the nations they conquered and ruled for nearly two decades, since they also have a thing for kitschy Americana and faux-Indian knick-knacks as well.
- Carefully Averted in the Sandokan novels, with the author (noted for extremely accurate research) taking care of providing accurate if brief descriptions of the various people appearing in the series and their respective cultures, even differentiating between people that most would usually lump together (Tremal Naik and Kammamuri are both Indians of Hindu religion, but Tremal Naik is often described as Bengali and Kammamuri just can't shut up on being a Maratha).
- Sixth Column. The whole of Asia has amalgamated to a massive nation of PanAsia, with most elements resembling Japanese culture. They launch an Overnight Conquest of the United States. The story was originally written during WW2 when anti-Japanese propaganda was understandably strong...and the Chinese had already been fighting the Japanese for years. Author Robert A. Heinlein considered Sixth Column an Old Shame that he wrote to garner the favor of the racist but influential sci-fi editor John W. Campbell.
Frank Burns: When are you going to learn about Chinese treachery? Didn't Pearl Harbor teach you anything?
- Kung Fu: Half Chinese Kwai Chang Caine tries to explain the difference between a Shaolin monk and a Ninja with little comprehension from the white folk.
- Parodied (but played straight) in Glee. In "Throwdown," Sue splits the glee club in two and takes the minority students. Being Sue, she calls African-American members Mercedes and Matt "Aretha" and "Shaft" respectively, before moving on to Asian-American Tina (Chinese) and Mike (Chinese): "Asian" and "Other Asian." This gets carried forward where, in the later episode "Ballads," when the club take names out of a hat to find their partners for ballads Tina picks "Other Asian." When they eventually become a couple everything they do, from dating to family meetings, is prefaced with the adjective "Asian," including "Asian Couples Therapy." Tina wonders why the couples therapy needs to be Asian. Later, when Sunshine Corazon (Filipino) considers joining the team, only to be mistreated by Rachel, Tina and Mike confront her and, when they are asked how they even heard about the situation, explain that the Asian community is very close.
- In Arrow, the Green Arrow villain Shado is depicted as being of Chinese descent despite being Japanese in the original comics.
- The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "A Fractured House" features a scene where Bobbi travels to Okinawa to meet with an old friend. The scene was filmed at a Chinese garden in San Marino, California.
- Subverted in an episode of Touched by an Angel. An East Asian woman is asked to act as a Chinese translator on a business trip to China, only for her to become offended and assert that she is Korean. Turns out she really is Chinese, but was forced to flee the country after the Cultural Revolution.
- In an episode of CSI, a Chinese actor was able to pose as a Japanese man in a con involving a fake Japanese sword.
- Vincent Masuka on Dexter occasionally does this to himself, referring to all Asians as "my people" and setting up a Buddhist shrine for good luck, only shrugging after Dexter asks if the Japanese aren't traditionally Shinto (most Japanese people practice a combined Buddhism and Shinto though, with one third being exclusively Buddhist. Over half have a Buddhist shrine in their home). Another example is when Masuka says Dexter is "messing with his chi", and the latter points out that's Chinese, which Masuka responds to with "So?" (this is not really wrong, except it's called "ki" instead of "chi" in Japan).
- When Jack and Toshiko are sent back to World War II in Torchwood, Tosh is a little miffed to be mistaken for Chinese. Although the fact that she told them she's Japanese when Japan was an Axis power could have gone badly, if not for Jack's "she's a codebreaker for the Allies" explanation.
- In an episode of Psych, Shawn takes a wushu lesson and tells the master that he always wanted to learn karate. The (Chinese) master is furious and tells him that wushu is completely different from karate, which Shawn, being a jerkass, ignores. He also calls the master sensei, which is a Japanese word for teacher, as opposed to shifu.
- The Pacific: Episode nine features angry confrontations over the rights of the Okinawan civilians versus the Imperial Japanese soldiers ("A Jap's a Jap!" one Marine protests).
- Lost: Happens in-story several times to Sun and Jin, who are Korean. Hurley refers to them as "the Chinese people" before he learns their true nationality. A flashback to the airport reveals a white couple making a reference to Memoirs of a Geisha (Japanese) in relation to them. Also, in "This Place is Death," when Jin asks Charlotte to translate, knowing that she speaks Korean, Sawyer assumes he means Miles (who's Chinese American) and encourages him to help, to which Miles replies "Dude, he's Korean. I'm from Encino."
- Invoked on FlashForward (2009), when a woman describes herself saying in her flash-forward that she needs to talk to "Agent Noh, or one of those names that's Vietnamese or Chinese or something..." Cut to Noh, who informs her with open annoyance that it's Korean.
- Law & Order: Criminal Intent had an episode written to feature a wealthy Kashmiri family involved in that region's struggle for secession. The episode was, for one reason or another (presumably news-related) rewritten to be about a Tamil family involved in the Sri Lankan separatist movement. They didn't change the cast and they didn't change the character names, leaving some viewers wondering how a prominent Tamil political leader would be called Bela Khan (a Muslim name-she also wears a hijab at times, while the Sri Lankan Tamils are Hindus) and look like near enough to being white (the actress, Indira Varma, is only half Indian).
- The Walking Dead, in Season 3's "Home":
Merle: I nearly killed the Chinese kid.Daryl: He's Korean!Merle: Whatever, man.
- The Golden Girls includes a few instances of this, notably in the episode where Rose goes back to school to get her GED (with Dorothy as a class instructor). In taking attendance, Dorothy calls out the name "Jim Shu" and then mistakes it for a practical joke involving homophones ("Gym Shoe"). As Dorothy dismisses the name as a prank, an Asian-American man stands up and identifies himself as "Jim Shu." Shortly thereafter, "Jim Shu" hits on Rose, who sits in front of him, by asking her to "meet me at Benihana after class" and later telling Dorothy that he couldn't "drink [enough] sake" to fool around with her. "Shu" is typically a Chinese name, while all of the character's "Asian" cultural references (Benihana, sake) are Japanese. Of course, the actor, Ralph Ahn, was Korean.
- Daredevil (2015):
- In the first episode, when the Hell's Kitchen crime bosses are rendezvousing at a construction site and James Wesley is running late, Leland Owlsley asks the Japanese Nobu if he can translate for the Chinese/K'un-L'unian Madame Gao. He immediately gets an offended look from Nobu and Gao, and Anatoly regards him in a way that can be summed up as "Wow, really? You idiot." It's clear that Owlsley has trouble understanding the two cultures and languages are nothing alike even after Anatoly points this out to him.
- The slimy college professor in "Semper Fidelis" that Matt and Elektra seek out to translate some documents, tells the two Asian prostitutes he hired that he wants to eat moo goo gai pan off their naked bodies. When one of the women tells him they aren't Chinese, he just shrugs it off and says all Asians look alike to him anyway. And this guy teaches Asian Studies at NYU.
- Iron Fist (2017):
- Colleen Wing was raised in Japan, but happens to speak both Mandarin and Japanese. It's revealed she was born in China but moved to Japan after her mother died.
- Danny Rand was taught Chinese martial arts while living with Tibetan Buddhist monks in the Himalayas.
- Danny references Edo-era Ronin Samurai traditions of challenging a school master to try to get a position to teach at Colleen's school, thus assuming a kendo school should also teach kung fu.
- During the first episode, the spontaneous Chinese street festival Danny infiltrates trying to elude Ward Meachum's goons shows participants with Japanese kabuki masks.
- Danny, as a kung fu martial artist, also practices Hindu meditative practices.
- Played for laughs in an episode of Scrubs where the Janitor tricks JD into using the word "chink" in front of the Asian Franklin (it was the answer to a crossword puzzle). Throughout the rest of the episode every other Asian doctor in the hospital is shown glaring at JD as he walks past. JD then leaves a $30 tip at a Chinese restaurant.
- On Sabrina the Teenage Witch, a Chinese food delivery man hears Salem talk and captures him, saying that a talking cat will make him enough money that he can move back to Japan. Salem wonders aloud why a Japanese man is working at a Chinese restaurant, only for the guy to sarcastically ask why a cat is talking (in fact, a lot of Chinese restaurants in the US are run by Japanese people. This can be very odd for the Chinese customers who go in).
- A 1980 episode of The Muppet Show famously Flanderized the entire continent of Asia. Right after Kermit the Frog announces to the audience that the gang is going to be reenacting A Thousand and One Nights (or The Arabian Nights, as Kermit refers to it), a Chinese gong goes off, provoking laughter from the audience. Later, a random Muppet sings about going to Bombay and meeting a "sentimental Oriental" who is supposed to be a Hindu, but dresses like an Arabian harem girl and is played by the Ambiguously Jewish Muppet "Wanda." Furthermore, her love interest is a "whirling dervish," referencing the Sufi Islamic sect that exists in Turkey, Iran, and certain other countries, but not really India. Later, during the depiction of "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," Ali Baba and his horse are shown traveling through what looks to be a jungle - even though tropical rain forests are nowhere to be found near Arabia.
- In Star Trek, the character Sulu was supposed to represent all Asian cultures, so Gene Roddenberry deliberately gave him a name that is not nationally specific, taking it from the Sulu Sea, which touches all the shores of Asian nations. He was eventually revealed to have a Japanese given name. He's been played by a Japanese-American, George Takei, and a Korean-American, John Cho.
- Played for comedy in Eastbound & Down when Ashley Schaeffer entertains some Korean business executives with Japanese food and a cross-dressing geisha dancer. In the series finale, he admits his error and says that the Koreans were very offended.
- Averted in Tomorrows Rejects. When Keiren is introduced to Phil Nguyen at his job interview, he said that he could tell just by looking at him that he's of Vietnamese descent, which impresses Phil so much that he gives him the job. Keiren later admits to Gilligan that Nguyen is the Vietnamese equivalent of someone with the surname Smith. In fact, it's estimated that up to 40% of the Vietnamese population have this surname.
- In the first episode of the British sitcom Bad Education, teacher Alfie Wickers, who dishes out most of the titular bad education, makes his class do a reenactment of the Battle of Pearl Harbor. He gives Asian student Jing Chow the role of a Japanese soldier, even putting a Rising Sun headband on her. He is soon reminded that "She's Chinese, you muppet!"
- On a Shark Week special, Craig Ferguson joked that he has "Small Chinese Feet" because his parents bound them, since they wanted him to be the first Scottish geisha (the latter being Japanese).
- Done on Community, by of all people...
Chang: Are you ignoring me because I'm Korean?Shirley: You're Chinese.Chang: Oh there's a difference?
- Chang having been played by Korean-American actor Ken Jeong.
- In Victorious Wing Lee runs a Chinese restaurant named Wok Star in early episodes; later she opens Nozo, a Japanese sushi restaurant. This is lampshaded by Tori, who asks her which ethnicity she is.
- In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Reese tries to mail himself to China so he can beat up his pen pal for not sending him nunchakus signed by the Emperor.
- In the episode of Shortland Street where Li Mei (who is Chinese) first appeared, Waverly welcomed her with a big platter of raw fish - which is a lot like welcoming a French person with bratwurst and sauerkraut. Li Mei was, naturally, insulted.
- In an episode of Just Shoot Me!, Elliot manages to mistake a Japanese-American advertiser for the Chinese takeout delivery guy, then when Jack arranges for an apology later...he mistakes a different man, who's Chinese-American and has worked for him for years (but he never noticed), for the first guy. The two meet in the elevator later, with the Chinese-American man commenting "Must be the year of the jackass."note
- Played for Laughs in the "Playa Hater's Ball" sketch from Chappelle's Show, where the top Hater from South Korea is a man named Mr. Roboto.
- In Black-ish, one of Dre's coworkers asks Tanya, an Asian-American employee, how parents handle corporal punishment in China. An annoyed Tanya responds by saying that she wouldn't know, since she's from Torrance and is Korean.
- Spoofed in Danger 5, where the episode set in Japan uses Chinese and Korean tropes as if interchangeable.
- In an episode of Fresh Off the Boat, Eddie (who is Taiwanese-American) asks why the Japanese game developers behind Shaq Fu need to charge 50 dollars for it.
Classmate: Aren't you Japanese?Eddie: Shut your damn mouth.
- The Good Place: Jason notes that he's actually Filipino, not Taiwanese like the Buddhist monk he's been mistaken for, and says it's racist people assumed that he was. Of course, here they had no reason for thinking otherwise at first, especially since he never said anything about it before.
- The Wire: In season 1, Carver essentially makes a prank-call to D'Angelo Barksdale, seeking to verify that Roland Przybylewski's code-breaking is good work. After he hangs up:
Herc: Fuck was that?Ellis Carver: That was my "Korean counterman".Herc: Sounded Chinese.Ellis Carver: Like you can fucking tell the difference.
- Seemingly played straight in 8 Simple Rules when the Stern Teacher Mrs Crup is furious with Kerry for assuming she's Japanese and says "I'm Chinese actually". Later she becomes a Defrosting Ice Queen thanks to a romance with CJ and admits she is Japanese.
- Westworld: Sylvester asks Felix, who is Asian, if he can speak Japanese to the Shogunworld hosts after they're being taken by them. Annoyed, he says he's from Hong Kong, and therefore doesn't speak Japanese. Luckily Maeve does.
- In Kim's Convenience, Jung (who is of Korean descent) is greeted with a "konnichiwa" from the old white guy he's trying to buy sneakers off of. The guy then apologizes and says, "It's the only Oriental I know." And that's just the beginning of his unpleasant racist (and later sexist) exchanges with Jung and his boss Shannon, who is horrified.
- Charmed (2018): Niko complains of this perception, since a fellow cop asked that she translate a Chinese menu for him, when she's not Chinese (to judge by her name, she's Japanese-American).
- The Doobie Brothers song "China Grove" is about a Chinatown in Texas. It also mentions "samurai swords," which would be Japanese.
- There is a song by a bubblegum dance group Banaroo, called "Hong Kong Song," which, in the lyrics, mentions samurais, geishas, kimonos (which were technically derived from Chinese garments, so that can be overlooked) and uses a lot of vaguely Asian-sounding words. This all results in sentences like, "The lonely construction worker." WHY.
- All over the place in "China in her Eyes" by Modern Talking.
- Nicki Minaj's "Your Love" contains the lyric "When I was a geisha, he was a samurai / Somehow I understood him when he spoke Thai". Everyone knows that Japanese people don't speak Thai, they speak Japanese. The fact that Minaj is part Asian herself makes that lyric even more inexcusable. It's likely that she did that because "samurai" and "Thai" do admittedly rhyme well, but that came at the cost of her cultural credibility.
- In Eric Idle's song "I Like Chinese", one of the things he likes about the Chinese is "their tiny little trees", referring to Japanese bonsai trees. Lampshaded in Monty Python Live (Mostly), in which Eric's backup singers correct him. Although bonsai are actually based on earlier small trees from China, it was likely he didn't know this.
- The song "Jackie Chan" by Tiësto and Dzeko featuring Preme and Post Malone has a line mentioning Jackie Chan followed by a line about sushi:
I just ordered sushi from Japan
Now your bitch wanna kick it, Jackie Chan
- Luchador Sugi Sito was simply a Chinaman with a Japanese sounding ring name. That was enough to fool fans in Mexico, the US and Canada, though to be fair Sito started it while World War II war was still being fought. And hopefully had some fun with it considering what Japan was doing to China at the time...
- Korean wrestler Rikidozan had a Japanese gimmick in the United States to capitalize on the bad feelings still left over from World War 2.
- Killer Khan, despite having a Mongolian gimmick, was Japanese.
- Originally, Yokozuna was supposedly from Japan, despite his Samoan heritage (he's actually in the same Wrestling Family that gave us the Wild Samoans, the Head Shrinkers, and The Rock). Eventually, his ring introductions were changed to announce that he was from Hawaii, but "representing the nation of Japan".
- Chinese wrestlers Ray, Li Fang, Su Yung and Jun Hado are often confused for Japanese. Ray for wrestling primarily in Japan, Yung for wearing a lot of Japanese symbols and Hado because he was given a Japanese name after his Chinese one proved too difficult for people to remember as well as the fact he teams with Japanese wrestler The Great Akuma (even though the team is called The Forbidden City Warriors, hinting at China). Li Fang because...who knows? Despite the name he sometimes has to be billed as "Chinese Warrior".
- WWE put a former WCW wrestler, the Korean Jimmy Wang Yang, in a Yakuza group and gave him the Japanese name "Akio". After Yoshihiro Tajiri protested that real Yakuza would find the group offensive though, Akio was changed into a Korean movie star.
- During the last two years of his WWE career, Japanese wrestler Funaki wrestled as enhancement talent under the gimmick "Kung Fu Naki," with his new entrance theme being an obvious knockoff of Carl Douglas' classic "Kung Fu Fighting." Thing is, kung fu is the main Chinese martial art.
- While explaining how Jessie Brooks was going to beat Mia Yim in Valkyrie Pro despite them being friends in Ring of Honor, Julius Smokes suddenly started ranting about why he didn't like Chinese food. Yim is, of course, Korean.
- Angela Fong:
- She was billed from Hong Kong, but her finisher was called the Sake Bomb. Sake is a Japanese drink.
- In Lucha Underground 'Black Lotus Triad' is made up of Japanese women wrestlers, Black Lotus herself being the only one of the expected nationality.
- When the World of Darkness had its "Year of the Lotus" event where it released Asian-themed material for its gamelines (Kindred of the East in particular), it treated the entirety of East and Southeast Asia as the generic "Middle Kingdom"—actually an epithet for China—with only lip service to cultural distinctions between the various countries.
- Sahud in Banestorm. Justified in that they came from disparate parts of Asia and were thoroughly mixed.
- Not an in-universe example, but the Turko-Mongol Hung of Warhammer fame were for some odd reason given tribal names that basically amounted to East Asian sounding gibberish. This may have been a Take That! against the tendencies to conflate Chinese and Mongolian culture together in popular cultures (those bloody fu-manchus...), as the other Turko-Mongol horse-warriors, the Kurgan, were actually portrayed fairly accurately to real-life Steppe Nomads; having names actually drawn from real world Turkic and Mongol ethnic groups - like "Khazag", "Dolgan" and "Kul".
- There is one hilarious moment of this actually occurring in-universe when an Kislevite noblewomen (Eastern Slavic) derisively asks "what's the difference between the Ungol (Kazakh-type horse-nomads) and the Kurgan (psychotically violent Mongol-Hun types)?" A nearby Ungol's response?
- He's not wrong, either. Cannibalism is no great taboo in Kurgan society.
- There is one hilarious moment of this actually occurring in-universe when an Kislevite noblewomen (Eastern Slavic) derisively asks "what's the difference between the Ungol (Kazakh-type horse-nomads) and the Kurgan (psychotically violent Mongol-Hun types)?" A nearby Ungol's response?
- On a similar note, the White Scars of Warhammer 40,000 are ostensibly supposed to be based on Mongol and Turkic horse-warriors, but still have inexplicable Chinese and Japanese influences despite that.
- Largely averted in the Eclipse Phase story "Nostrums". On colonized Mars the most common language is Mandarin Chinese, the main characters, Jae Park and Sage Kim, are of Korean descent, the Yakuza is supplying Traditional Chinese Medicines (made from uplifted apes) after the Triads ditched it as an "embarrassment", and the main villain is Indian but wearing a Japanese body for most of the story.
- One Avenue Q song has the line "Tried to work in Korean deli / But I am Japanese." Or in the Australian performance, "tried to work in Chinese restaurant." The actress in the Australian performance was Filipino.
- Subverted and played for laughs in Not a Hero; the final criminal organization to fight is called the Pan-Asian Triad Yakuza, a name they chose.
- Despite this, all of their aesthetic design is Japanese-inspired, their special units are Samurai and Ninja, and their leader is named Akemi Unagi.
- Invoked in Guilty Gear: Anji Mito is a Japanese person (in this "verse," their race was almost wiped out in a war with the eponymous Gears, and are placed in protective colonies throughout Asia supposedly for their own safety) who takes up the guise of a Chinese person in order to travel freely.
- In Fallout 3's Mothership Zeta expansion, Paulson (a 19th century cowboy) refers to Toshiro Kago (a 16th century Samurai in full armor) as a "Chinaman" until he is corrected.
- Actually averted in the main game; while most American works of fiction assume all Asian swords are katanas, the Chinese swords are militarized Jian.
- In the Operation Anchorage expansion, you encounter a simulation of General Jingwei, a Chinese military commander who is obsessed with honor and can be convinced to commit seppuku. Considering the many other inaccuracies in the simulation, this is probably intentional.
- Played for laughs in Fallout 4, where Paladin Danse accuses Takahashi (a malfunctioning robot only capable of saying "Na-ni shimasu-ka?" note ) of being a Chinese spy since it is only capable of speaking Japanese.
- At one point in Earthbound, a museum curator refers to Poo as a samurai. While Poo does come from the typical Asian-Fantasy Counterpart Culture-in-an-otherwise-Western-world, it subverts the Wutai trope by making it have more in common with India and Sri Lanka than Japan or anywhere else. This being Earthbound, it's likely that the curator just didn't know any better. But then again, despite being from a takeoff South Asia, Poo is a martial artist with slanted eyes and wears a gi...
- Blizzard Entertainment offended its Chinese fans by giving the Pandaren—a race of humanoid pandas in Warcraft—a Japanese-ish culture complete with samurai in concept art. In the real world, pandas are the national animal of China and the only place in the world where they can be found wild. Blizzard quickly gave the race Chinese markings.
- Mortal Kombat:
- For the early Mortal Kombats Midway had trouble keeping the races of the Asian characters straight, which is why you have things like Chinese Ninja and the series' main character (a Chinese Shaolin Monk) being named after a Japanese samurai in preproduction and the like. Later games retconned all of this to make sense to a certain degree. This is also likely why all of the Asian characters yell gibberish when they utter battle cries.
- This is continued in Mortal Kombat: Legacy, where the Lin Kuei (a Chinese assassin clan) is outright stated to be in Japan, with Bi-Han (AKA Sub-Zero) speaking Japanese in season 1 (season 2 goes with Translation Convention). In season 2, the Lin Kuei are neighbors with the Shirai Ryu (a ninja clan).
- Wutai in Final Fantasy VII is a strange blend of Chinese and Japanese culture combined some elements just made up; a character from Wutai, Yuffie, has a name neither Chinese nor Japanese. It's on the extreme west of the map and there are people with Russian names living there. Especially strange is that in the high-tech city of Midgar there are signs in Japanese everywhere yet is considered culturally different from Wutai.
- Age of Empires II gives Japanese-style buildings to all East Asian civilizations included in the game: Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Mongol. The Age of Empires III expansion The Asian Dynastyes, which brought Chinese and Japanese civilizations, had them using completely different sets of buildings and also units.
- Tzar: The Burden of the Crown only has three civilizations: "European", "Arabic" and "Asian". Asians have access to a mix of Japanese and Chinese units like ninjas, foot and mounted samurai, Shaolin monks and priests, towers firing primitive rockets and war chariots based off the ones found in Qin Shi Huangdi's tomb (even though the game's setting is loosely Medieval). They are also the only civilization that can train dragons, but they are Western rather than Eastern-style dragons.
- Knuckles in China Land is a Sonic the Hedgehog Edutainment fan game RPG which teaches Japanese as a foreign language, yet it takes place in "China Land".
- One mission in Hitman: Absolution takes place at Chinatown during the Chinese New Year, yet you can find a katana as a weapon.
- The Aspari Corporation, of Syndicate 2012, is a mix of Chinese and Japanese. On the one hand, Mandarin seems to be their lingua franca and many of their citizens and employees are either Chinese or Chinese-American. On the other hand, according to the intel, their headquarters is in Tokyo, there are several prominent advertisements of a geisha in their commercial district, and their Agents are all Japanese samurai. Additionally, their building decor contains influence from both cultures. This is justified in-game since the Aspari (or Asia Pacific Rim) Corporation was founded from a merger between various Chinese MegaCorps and Japanese Zaibatsus and, as national and cultural identity has given way to corporate identity by 2069, there would likely have been some cultural melding by that point.
- Occurs in-universe in Homefront. Due to the invasion of the US by the North Koreans, many other Asian ethnicities are caught up in anti-Korean sentiment.
- Averted then invoked in the Deus Ex series:
- During the missions in China in Deus Ex, you can find a melee weapon called "sword" used by the triads. It appears to be a Dao. Later, you can find the Dragon's Tooth sword, created by the late leader of the Red Arrow triad, is a sort of energy blade shaped like a Jian. Both of these are Chinese swords, which makes sense as the triads use them.
- On the other hand, in Deus Ex: Invisible War, all the energy blades look like Katanas. This is fine on its own (they weren't necessarily created by the triads), but the Dragon's Tooth sword (the same one, mind) has morphed into one as well.
- Wizard 101 plays this mostly straight in Mooshu, but its sister game Pirate 101 subverts it by splitting Mooshu into a Chineese half and a Japaneese half with a small area of blended cultures in between.
- The Asian gangsters in the first level of Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard are implied to be the Yakuza, but the mini-boss, a jive talkin' black kung-fu master who looks like he walked out of a 70's Blaxploitation film, claims to be working for a "Mr. Chang". On the other hand, said mini-boss also threatens to turn you into sushi and makes a couple Karate Kid references. Fortunately, none of this is meant to be taken at all seriously and the game's Meta Plot kicks in soon after.
- Turns up in the penultimate panel of this The Non-Adventures of Wonderella.
- Similar to the Discworld example listed above, The Order of the Stick gives us Azure City, a deliberate mishmash of Asian tropes and settings, in homage to the "Oriental Adventures" of D&D, which played this trope alarmingly straight.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: Bob obviously can't tell the difference between Japanese and Chinese...
- In Misfile, Missi is accused of preferring Japanese cars simply because she's Japanese. She snaps back that she's actually Chinese.
- The Wotch has Mingmei Wu who is a girl who speaks Japanese and likes stereotypical Japanese things, but has a Chinese name. This is actually a plot point as from the outset the reader knows she's actually the once male adult Latino Prof. Sorgaz transfromed and brainwashed. The inaccuracy being down the person who developed the spell in the first place being an anime nerd without much cultural knowledge and then writing in spell books for others to use as a generic "anime girl" spell.
- In Least I Could Do, when Rayne prepares to go on a date with Chinese-Canadian woman Cyndi and meet her parents, he prepares by studying anime and styling himself after it. His friends know how incredibly dumb this is, but are sick of Rayne's Jerk Ass ways, so they decide it's more fun to sit back and watch it blow up in his face.
- The YouTube video 500 Impressions in 2 Minutes is based on this — since "all Asian people look the same," for one Asian guy to impersonate another is trivial.
- Cracked: #5 of this list.
- On the Instance and all his other podcasts, Scott Johnson often uses a generic Cantonese-ish accent in his impression of "Ding Pong," a fictional WoW gold-seller. This trope is invoked because he often mentions that the "real" Ding Pong is his adopted brother, who is Korean. Note: I am 99% sure he knows the difference.
- Many a Sickipedia joke, such as this one. However, they actively try to be offensive.
- In The Rap Critic's review of "Just Can't Get Enough", just after Fergie says "I love you long time so you know the meanin'" and the Critic points out the line was originally used by a Vietnamese prostitute offering herself:
"The cameraman's sister": I'm offended by this line.
Critic: You're not Vietnamese.
Girl: Who cares? All Asians are the same!
- Parodied in the flash movie "The End of the World". The US launches a nuke at China, and China is shown to have cultural elements of Japan, including a large wooden bath tub, and a conspicuously large flag of Japan.
- The music video for the ARK Music Factor song "Chinese Food" (the same guys who produced Friday) makes a ton of cultural mixups, such as Japanese geishas dancing at one point, or the restaurant more resembling a Mongolian grill than one for Chinese food.
- The SCP Foundation very, very pointedly averts this with SCP 953, a Fantastic Fox that is a Korean Kumiho and definitely not a Japanese Kitsune. Kitsune may or may not be friendly with people, but in most tales they are fairly benign. Kumiho are Always Chaotic Evil Ax-Crazy killers with Mind Control powers who eat human hearts and livers. Mistaking the two is likely to prove fatal.
As misidentification of her species tends to violently agitate SCP-953, all personnel are to be hereby ordered to refer to her as a "Kumiho," and not a "Kitsune." Personnel asking what the difference is are to be reminded of the difference between a Cherokee Indian and a New Delhi Indian.
- Code Lyoko: In the prequel "XANA Awakens," Yumi Ishiyama yells a few times at people that she is Japanese when they mistake her for being Chinese.
- Parodied on Catscratch, when Blik and Gordon both try to win the same trip to China. They call China things like the "land of cherry trees" or "the land of miso soup." Every time they do this, Waffle calls them out, saying "That's Japan." Ironically, he gets it wrong when Gordon calls China "the land of French fries." Waffle guesses, "That's... (beat) Canada?"
- King of the Hill:
- Hank Hill and his friends can't wrap their head around their neighbor Kahn Souphanousinphone not being either Chinese or Japanese, even after he corrects them:
Hank: So, are you Chinese or Japanese?
Kahn: I live in California last twenty years, but first come from Laos.
Kahn: Laos. We Laotian.
Bill: The ocean? What ocean?
Kahn: We are Laotian! From Laos, stupid! It's a landlocked country in South East Asia between Vietnam and Thailand, okay? Population 4.7 million!
Hank: So, are you Chinese or Japanese?
- Subverted with Hank's father, Cotton Hill, who is able to identify Kahn as Laotian without ever being told. His experiences in World War II likely helped. He is very racist (which, by the way, isn't even his most reprehensible character trait) and goes so far as to identify Kahn as Laotian by smell, and then immediately assumes he's Hank's servant.
- In another episode, Ted Wassonasong (also Laotian) speaks to another Asian man, Mr. Ho, in Cantonese, and Hank asks Kahn what they're saying. Kahn angrily retorts that they're speaking Chinese, so how is he supposed to know?
- Hank Hill and his friends can't wrap their head around their neighbor Kahn Souphanousinphone not being either Chinese or Japanese, even after he corrects them:
- In the Japan episode of Total Drama World Tour, Chris wore a Chinese costume. Harold called him out on it (though oddly, didn't seem to care that they were also using pandas).
- South Park:
- Parodied in "City Sushi" when a Japanese sushi restaurant opens next door to City Wok. The residents of the town refer to both restaurants as "Chinese" — and to the area where both restaurants are situated as "Little Tokyo" — much to the frustration of the owners, who are violently racist toward each other. The owners put aside their differences to educate residents on Asian cultural diversity in the hopes that residents will come to share their hatred of the others' culture. Ultimately it's revealed that the Chinese guy is actually a white man with multiple personality disorder.
- In "Tweek x Craig", one of the Asian girls in school makes a comment in her native language, and Craig tells another one to translate. The girl replies that she has no idea what was said; she's Japanese, and the first girl is Korean. Later in the episode, Randy calls the Chinese president to ask about the Japanese "art style" of yaoi.
- Ironically played straight in Code Monkeys, where Japanese businessman Matsui mistakes the Korean Benny for Chinese and gets called out on it.
- In a review of the animated The King and I, the reviewer mentions that Crown Prince Chululongkorn practices kung fu, when as a Siamese prince he'd be much more likely to be a student of Muay Thai. And indeed, if you watch that particular scene, you'll notice that Chululongkorn has taped-up fists, which are more commonly associated with Muay Thai than kung fu. That said, that's pretty much the ''only'' thing about Thailand that the movie got right.
- Aja has been implied to be Chinese and Japanese on different occasions. Considering we know nothing about her past before becoming Jerrica's foster sister, she could be both though.
- The riff to the song "A Father Should Be" is Chinese inspired despite Ba Nee being half-Vietnamese. It's not even like this is a minor fact. Her father was an American soldier stationed in Vietnam, she was born in Vietnam before being sent to America, and the music video shows the fact she has Vietnamese heritage.
- Chloe from Miraculous Ladybug states that Marinette's uncle should just make sushi "like everyone else". As Adrien points out, sushi is Japanese whereas Marinette's uncle is Chinese.
- Disney Magic English has an image where a cartoon clock◊ that's supposed to represent China wears an Asian conical hat and a pair of Japanese geta of all things. Ironically, this image also made it into the Chinese version of the book.
- In the The Powerpuff Girls (2016) episode "Take Your Kids To Dooms Day", a ninja character appears on screen with Korean writing.
- In the 19th century, the Filipino patriot Jose Rizal (who was himself of mixed Malay/Chinese blood) once pretended to be a Japanese in a European museum, answering questions about Japanese artists and culture. He didn't know one word of Japanese at that time. When a member of the audience asked him to translate the words on a painting, he got away with by saying that because of his supposed background (he was shipped to Europe to learn about European culture), he didn't have time to learn Japanese. Looks like he did it For the Lulz.
- After the Pearl Harbor attack, anti-Japanese sentiment in the US reached literally murderous levels. Asian-Americans who were not of Japanese descent often took steps to distance themselves from Japanese-Americans to escape spillover persecution.
- Often, many Asian-Americans would wear buttons that said "I'm Chinese" (or any other Asian ethnicity) to avoid deportation. Japanese-Americans often tried to pass themselves off as such, too.
- This persecution also extended to Korean immigrants since Korea at the time was under Japanese occupation for some decades since 1910 and for Americans it made no difference.
- LIFE magazine published an article called "How to Tell Japs from the Chinese"◊. The features of Han Chinese, who apparently represent all Chinese ethnicities in the article, are described as fine and graceful, while Japanese are described as mostly "aboriginal."
- Similarly, TIME magazine published "How to Tell Your Friends from the Japs" after the Pearl Harbor attack.
- When political pundit Michelle Malkin wrote a book in defense of Japanese-American internment during World War II, her critics noted that, given that she's a Filipina, she might have been lumped in with Japanese-Americans herself due to this trope. Malkin is frequently the victim of racial slurs from trolls on her site, many of which involve China or Vietnam.
- The tragic murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American who was murdered by Chrysler plant workers who blamed Japanese automakers for taking their business. The outrage over the lenient sentencing of the murderers was a catalyst for the political organization of Asians in America.
- Thienh Minh Ly, a Vietnamese-American, was stabbed and killed by two white youths, one of whom wrote in his journal that he "killed a jap ..."
- Since the 9/11 attacks the number of hate crimes against Sikhs in the US skyrocketed in number as many Sikh immigrants from the Indian subcontinent and their families were mistaken for Arab-American Muslims and horrifically beaten. This most likely relates to clothing customs: Sikhs are required to wear a turban by the customs of their religion. Many Westerns don't know the difference between Sikhs and Arabs, and typically associate turbans with Arabs. After the tragic shooting of a Sikh temple in Milwaukee in 2012, an image went viral stating a quote attributed to Eric Parsons, "I was gonna post something explaining the difference between Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims, but then I realized that you don't need to know anything about someone's religion to know that you shouldn't shoot them."
- Also in the aftermath of 9/11, a family of ethnic Greeks living in Jacksonville, FL were beaten up by thugs who thought they were Arabs. Hey, dark skin is dark skin, right?
- In the 2013 Miss America Beauty Pageant, Miss New York Nina Davuluri became the first Indian American to win the crown, and unsurprisingly, social media was full of racist morons complaining about an "Islamic terrorist" hijacking the pageant. Not only was Davaluri born and raised in Syracuse, but she and her family are Hindu.
- A common joke in Russian and American anime fandom is to call anime "Chinese pornographic cartoons" or "Chinese devil porn" (or simply "Chinese cartoons") after one utterly clueless and sensationalist newspaper report.
- In some Latin American countries like Chile, anime is commonly named as "monos chinos" (lit. Chinese monkeys) for people who doesn't understand anime or can't difference from children animations. The saying is because the old phrase "monos animados" (lit. "animated monkeys"), a way to say "cartoon" in these countries, so basically "monos chinos" is translated as "Chinese cartoons" and is seen as a despective form to name anime, which was even parodied for some otaku groups.
- For the 2011 The Green Hornet movie, the Internet Movie Database at one point listed Korean-American John Cho as Kato, when in fact the role was played by Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou. About 500 subsequent movie reviews have also committed the same error. Cho himself joked on Twitter: "I am beginning to suspect that I am not in the Green Hornet movie."
- Actor Daniel Dae Kim, who played the Korean Jin on Lost, reportedly said that having played characters of every Asian ethnicity except his own it was nice to be able to play Jin (though unlike Jin, he was raised in the US).
- Yoshiko Otaka (AKA Yoshiko Yamaguchi, Shirley Yamaguchi), is a Japanese actress-turned-politician who was born in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. Speaking fluent Chinese and Japanese, she became an actress and singer under the name Li Xianglan, and played Chinese women in propaganda films supporting the Japanese position. Her Japanese nationality was not reported in China, and most Chinese people at the time really did believe she was Chinese. She became one of the "Seven Great Singing Stars" of 1940's Chinese shidaiqu popular music, and several of the songs she recorded under this identity (夜來香, "Tuberose"/"Fragrance of the Night" for example) became enduring classics. After the war, she was arrested for treason and collaboration with the occupying Japanese, but cleared of all charges and simply deported. As a Japanese citizen, she was legally an enemy (subject to deportation), not a traitor (punishable by death).
- During the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a downed Japanese pilot landed on the island of Niihau and was approached by a native Hawaiian. The pilot's first English words to the man were "Are you Japanese?"
- Despite being disparaging terms for the Chinese, the terms "chink", "ching chong" and "Chinaman" (derogatory at least in North America) are at times indiscriminately directed towards anyone of East or Southeast Asian descent.
- The word "Paki" - considered a highly pejorative term primarily in Britain - is a prime example. Despite being an abbreviation for "Pakistani", the slur and associated "Paki bashing" indiscriminately targeted all South Asians and sometimes any other person with brown skin.
- You don't even have to be Asian for the trope to affect you. During World War II, Navajo soldiers (Code Talkers and otherwise) were often deliberately assigned to units with whites. Code Talkers had bodyguards (who had orders to shoot them to prevent their capture), but ordinary Navajos were told to stick close to white people so other Americans wouldn't mistake them for Japanese.
- Many Chinatowns in any major city will feature stores targeting other Asian cultures, such as Korea and Japan. Cleveland officially renamed its Chinatown "Asiatown" to acknowledge the mix of cultures.
- For some time, the San Francisco Police Department has been referring to all arrested Asians as "Chinese."
- The British take on this trope is to define "Asian" as solely meaning people from the Indian subcontinent. As with Americans defining "Asian" as solely relating to Sino-Japanese peoples, this is for good historical reasons: "India" was the heart of the British empire and there has been a lot of post-imperial migration to Britain. British-Indian comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar pointed out how this sounds to "Asians"; he cited the example of a retired Major from the pre-independence Indian Army who lived next door to the Bhaskar family, who at first impressed them with his fluency in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi, but dismissed protest that his neighbors were not Indian but Bangladeshi with the dismissive comment Pakistan, Ceylon, Bangladesh, Nepal, who cares? It's all India! which irritated the Major's neighbors...
- Restaurants in the Western world that serve Asian food typically serve Asian fusion from a variety of cultures. Even those that advertise one particular cuisine will often serve food with influences from outside of that culture, such as a Chinese buffet serving sushi. There's also no guarantee that the people working at or owning the restaurant will be from the food's home culture.
- KTVU in San Francisco broadcast a list of the purported names of the crew of Asiana 214, with names like "Sum Ting Wong" and "Bang Ding Ow," oblivious to the fact that the racist fake names were Chinese instead of Korean.
- When Akira Kurosawa was working on the Soviet-Japanese coproduction Dersu Uzala, the Soviet producers wanted his favorite lead Toshiro Mifune (obviously Japanese) to play the eponimous co-lead, a Nanainote by birth, but the scheduling conflicts prevented him from taking the role. In the end Maxim Munzuk, a Tuvan,note was cast-they couldn't find a suitable actor of Nanai descent.
- Though Toshiro Mifune was actually born in China, and until age 19, lived in Manchuria.
- In another Soviet cinema example, while Vladimir Wang, a former circus acrobat who had built himself quite a career playing various episodic Asians in The '70s, was ethnic Chinese, barely half of his roles were playing Chinese people. He has played Japanese, Mongols, Nanais, etc
- After Girls' Generation won Video of the Year at the inaugural YouTube Music Awards, fans of some of the other nominated artists took to Twitter with racist remarks that often showed that they didn't quite understand that South Korea (the home country of Girls' Generation) was separate from Japan or China.
- Similarly to the anime example above, some fans of Korean Pop Music in Latin America call Korean idols "chinos" (Chinese) or "chinitos", both parodying the way non-fans lump Asian cultures together and using it as a term of endearment. This is controversial, though, as other fans still consider it disrespectful towards the idols, no matter how ironically it's intended to be done.
- It's not uncommon for Asian tourists as well as immigrants and their children to be bombarded with "nihao"s, "konnichiwa"s and "arigatou"s when travelling overseas. Whether they take offence depends on how patronizingly it's said. Most agree it gets annoying right quick, even if no malice was intended.
- It can also happen within a home country for a person of Asian descent. It isn't uncommon to be asked "So where in China are you from?" or "Where are you from? No, I mean, where are you really from?" despite being wholly American.
- Being lumped in with Chinese nationals tends to be a Berserk Button for ethnic Chinese outside of China (especially Southeast Asians). Countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia have significantly different cultures from that of China, so much so that many of these ethnic Chinese experience culture shock themselves when they travel in China or interact with Chinese nationals. Case in point: many Singaporeans refer to Chinese nationals as P.R.C.s (People's Republic of China), leaving the label of "Chinese" for whomever has Chinese ethnicity.
- Mainland Chinese and "Overseas" Chinese often get into mild conflict over culture in a third country (for example, Australia), whose other inhabitants can't work out why there's so much friction between people of ostensibly the same culture. On the other hand, if they dismiss him by calling him an ignorant Englishman...
- Thanks to the Cultural Revolution there actually is a certain cultural gap between Mainland Chinese and the Chinese diaspora. There can be a degree of disagreement over what actually constitutes "true" Chinese culture. On a related note, equating Macau, Hong Kong or Taiwan with Mainland China in any way (ESPECIALLY culture-wise) tends to be a good way to anger someone from one of those places.
- Mainland Chinese and "Overseas" Chinese often get into mild conflict over culture in a third country (for example, Australia), whose other inhabitants can't work out why there's so much friction between people of ostensibly the same culture. On the other hand, if they dismiss him by calling him an ignorant Englishman...
- There's a big Chinese-Korean community in Chile, and despite coming from vastly different countries, they're so unified that some people get confused.
- The so-called "Chinese Mall" is a shopping center owned by Korean and Chinese families, originally (and legally) known as the street where is located, but people just called like that and they just ran with it.
- The commercial neighborhood Patronato is known for their Korean-owned stores and supermarkets, but it is not rare to find in said places products coming from China and Japan as well.
- Some Chinese restaurants now serve Sushi, probably because actual Japanese immigrants are very few.
- Another Asian-owned mall averts it by having the more generic name "Portal Asia". It doesn't stop people calling it "The other Chinese Mall"
- A series of racist attacks called "Nipper tipping" or "Nip tipping" occurred in Ontario, Canada during the late 00's. While derived from the anti-Japanese slur "nip", the attacks primarily targeted Chinese.
- Partially invoked in real life, as Imperial China tended to think of itself as the rightful ruler of the world and many of its neighbors actually agreed or at least played along. So in addition to paying tribute, nations from Japan to Vietnam adopted parts of Han Chinese culture to imitate the "center of the world" until the arrival of the West. note
- Korea once labelled itself "little China" because they wanted to model themselves after their neighboring nation. Heian Japan was so obsessed with Tang Dynasty culture (an era which China had already left behind hundreds of years ago at this point), Europeans first thought that Japanese culture was just an off-shoot of Chinese rather than its own.
- This can be an unintentional result of genetic tests that lack extensive samples from Asian countries. For example, this person took the Ancestry DNA test to solve a mystery about the origins of their grandparents, only to discover the site's coverage of East Asia merely listed every country in the area, without a specific breakdown.