Will Spence has an article on "Why 'gentleman' matters" in Caixin Online, part of a Mainland media group, with the following lede: "The Chinese government often says it wants to build up its soft power, but for this to happen it may have to embrace its heritage and adopt a gentler approach".
A key passage is the following:
It is interesting to note that the the word itself is rarely translated – it is much more common to hear "gentleman" than to hear shenshi or junzi – suggesting that there is something uniquely British about the notion, in a similar vein to English adopting the words of Chinese concepts like taichi and yin yang.
While it is true that shēnshì 绅士 is often translated as "gentleman" (refers to the superior qualities of an individual), and vice versa, the meaning is closer to "gentry" (member of a certain elite class). Jūnzǐ 君子, likewise often translated as "gentleman", and vice versa, is an ancient term laden with Confucian connotations ("a man of honor / noble character"). So, if we're trying to express all the nuances of the British usage of the term during recent centuries, neither shēnshì 绅士 nor jūnzǐ 君子 quite suffices. Consequently, I can understand why Chinese who admire and aspire to (British) gentlemanliness, or are amused by it, might just want to use the English word directly. But I do wonder how those Beijing cabbies mentioned by Will Spence pronounce the word "gentleman", and whether they really have a sense of "the subtle but strong notions of Britishness it invokes."
[Hat tip John Rohsenow]