“The job of guarding is given to incompetent people, and only a position in name” – Patchouli
If you thought Japan was the only country represented in Touhou, guess again. China’s in there too! What diversity! Yes, Meiling Hong is the only confirmed Chinese member of the cast (Seiga Kaku lived in China, but her country of origin is uncertain) and fortunately does not have a rice hat, buck teeth, slanty eyes, speak with a hilarious accent, work on the railroad, or subscribe to other such stereotypes. However, she’s reputed to fall asleep on the job and wears a generic Chinese dress. One step at a time, I suppose.
Meiling serves as the gatekeeper and gardener of the Scarlet Devil Mansion and keeps the riffraff out. Despite her human appearance, Meiling is a youkai and boasts supernatural strength along with martial arts prowess. In a world where combat is primarily ranged, however, she rarely gets to capitalize on these skills.
The exception is in the Touhou fighting games, in which her nemesis is a giant catfish. This is canon. I’m not even kidding.
It’s difficult to extrapolate a definitive personality from her few lines of in-game dialogue, but she seems fairly laid-back and on friendly terms with most of the people in the mansion, which stands in stark contrast to how fans see her.
In fanon, Meiling is portrayed as immensely stupid, lazy, and incompetent. Firstly, she almost universally fails at her gatekeeping duties, either being perpetually asleep on the job or completely incapable of keeping people out even when she tries. To be fair, the latter has a slight basis in canon as Marisa Kirisame enters and leaves the premises with impunity (possibly with the house mistress’ approval). I’m hard pressed to blame Meiling since stopping a psychotic, laser-shooting witch traveling at high speed isn’t exactly a trivial task.
These ascribed traits make Meiling a natural butt for jokes. The most standard Meiling joke by far is her being punished for falling asleep by the mansion’s head maid, Sakuya. Said punishment usually involves a knife in the bum or in the head, which Meiling typically takes in good humor. I’m tempted to say the knife in her hat is at this point as much a part of her character image as the rest of her outfit.
Another very common gag involves people butchering her name or calling her something completely incorrect, whether by accident or intentionally. The first of these names, Kurenai Misuzu, is an alternative reading of the characters that form Meiling’s name that results in a Japanese name. The other, China, is obviously in reference to her country of origin. As one would expect, Meiling doesn’t take kindly to being called either of these names, which only encourages people to torment her with them.
In fanworks, Meiling’s laid-back personality lets her get along with the more childlike characters in the series, including a certain basement-dwelling vampire known for her murderous psychosis. The idea is that the much more casual and personable Meiling is better able to connect to the violent but lonely Flandre than either her more formal elder sister and her head maid or the other denizens of Gensokyo that fear her power. Of course, sometimes this just gets her killed, so you win some you lose some.