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One American participant in the study actually blamed Hollywood for projecting a poor image of Chinese men around the world, and I couldn't help but wonder if she was thinking of at the time.

Zhang's findings -- that Western women from around the world have consistently pejorative ideas about Chinese men -- remind me this isn't a problem confined to some insular expat circles in China.

I didn't know much about China back then -- a time when I could only communicate in Mandarin with a dictionary and lots of patience, and where my entire cultural knowledge was amassed from the library books on China I borrowed during the summer.

But I figured surely I wasn't alone in my feelings.

And I as I came to know him better, he didn't disappoint me.

He always opened doors for me and wouldn't leave my side until he escorted me all the way to the entrance to my apartment.

This Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences professor surveyed over 100 Western women from diverse countries including France, Germany and the USA via questionnaires, and then interviewed over 20 of them in a focus group in Shanghai.

He was more of a gentleman toward me than any other man I had ever known.

He was Chinese, a man named Tian who grew up in Zhengzhou.

Back in 2010, I discovered a post on a now-defunct blog authored by expats in Shanghai.

The post was written by a white American woman based in Shanghai and titled, "So, how's the dating scene?

While she leans her head on his in perfect contentment, he has his cheek buried in her bosom while staring at it with a prurient curiosity that surely would have snapped the girl out of her reverie.

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