What I am talking about is just in a general way, and not tend to be judging right or wrong. It is a just one way for visitors to know or understand better the Chinese culture for comfort zone.
As we may know, modern western society is based on community, which is also extended the realm on the Internet, yet the eastern world , such as in China, is more like family bond or blood relation society. Given the specific Chinese history, actually before PRC was founded, Chinese society is kind of combination of sovereign governing and the autonomy of different village(kind of community) bonded by Surname or blood relationship. PRC and urban life movement destroy most of this, and I do not have the academic conclusion for this, but Chinese members have the tendency of being more close between blood families, regarding the aspect of finance and detail life style, even marriage. As a simple example, marriage in China is more like the marriage between two families. so personal privacy is not as much as important in Chinese culture in general or to say people don’t give a hoot about what the other one(stranger) feels about.
I am gonna cut the boloney, come back to reality
When you are waiting in line, such as, for food,or in the bank, people around you have the tendency of being close to you, so be comfy, they are just not aware of anything. And leaving the chance for the pickpocket is another topic for safety.
Cars waiting in line will be line up very closely to each other, some reason behind this is afraid of being cut the line(I have to say, too much).
If your Chinese friends ask you about some private question, such as marriage, etc, just change the subject naturally, they probably don’t mean to offend you.
Chinese restaurants is usually noisy, people speak loudly to each other, they just don’t care or not be aware of the people siting near them, so if you are not comfortable with this, ask for the private room in restaurant(with additional charge), most of moderated above restaurant got this, or you can choose some Japanese restaurant instead which is in general quieter than the traditional Chinese restaurant.
It’s alway annoying when you find someone siting in front of you to lean way back the seat deeply on the airplane, but a kindly reminder would be better, otherwise I saw times in news about people getting into physical.
Answer phone loudly in bus or subway is normal, you have to get used to it. An earphone in your ear would be better for you when you on the subway, just don’t miss the voice reminder for stop.
Chatting in the elevator, no better choice to avoid, just get out of there asap.
Be comfortable with the staring by people, they do not mean to offend you, they are probably just curious about the foreigner, you know, there are ten thousands of Chinese visitor coming to beijing everyday, thinking about the forbidden city, as most of Chinese would go there once time over decades, there will be more than 50,000 people coming there EVERYDAY, so just enjoy the “eye contact”, most of them are lovely and friendly.
So, in short, Chinese people may not think the way you do probably, mutual respect is the cornerstone of the understanding, just enjoy the good part you think.