Essay on Chinese Culture vs. Western and American Culture
3118 Words13 Pages
Chinese Culture vs. Western and American Culture There are many different aspects on Ancient Chinese culture that differ from Western and American culture. Many things such as education, marriage, and community type can be different from what we have in our Western civilization. Although Chinese culture has evolved through many, many years some ancient traditions still uphold. There are a wide variety of differences between the Chinese and Western cultures forms of art and literature. One example of this is the importance of architecture in China. While the Chinese build large and extravagant buildings, the history of the architecture and the buildings themselves are relatively unimportant to them. There is hard to find any ancient…show more content…
This is because most things are done electronically in western culture. Neat handwriting is nearly an unnecessary trait because so much is now typed instead of handwritten. Poetry even in its truest form in the western cultures is all typed and published into informal books or online. The Chinese culture would greatly frown upon this. The Chinese view it as an art of its own. It’s so important to them in fact that poets and writers are distinct by their handwriting and calligraphy abilities. “There is hardly anyone is Europe so well informed or so perceptive that he can say for certain whether a given specimen of writing is, or clearly is not, by, say Chao Meng-fu or Tung Ch’i Ch’ang and done with his own hand” (Speiser 18).He goes on by saying, “Calligraphy is one great category of art that remains almost a closed book for the US” (Speiser 18). The difference is likely due to language and written language differences. While the words on a page in Western cultures have very little symbolism, and are just letters in coordination with an object or idea; Chinese written language is based on full words and objects and ideas. In Chinese culture there is no combination of letters, there is only elegant symbols that are written out to portray meaning or represent an object. This gives the Chinese an advantage in their artistic freedom on how they wish to write something, that Western cultures do not have.
1. Social Structure – In China the social structure is formal and hierarchical. You know where you fit in the structure and you abide by the rules there. There is no crossing into other areas. In America, it is much more loose and informal. It is not uncommon to see those of various social levels socializing and knowing each other. There are very few lines that socially are not allowed to be crossed. This can cause problems in business relationships if the visiting culture is unaware of it.
2. Confrontation/Conflict – If you are planning on conducting business in China or expecting an extended stay, it might be useful to know that the direct way that most Americans approach issues is not the way to go in China. Direct conflict or confrontation over issues is highly frowned upon. Doesn’t matter that the “truth” needs to be spoken, respect and honor to each person supersedes that. To prove a point and show yourself in the right even over business issues is considered shameful and should be avoided.
3. Self – The Chinese looks more at the group collective than at individualism. America has become known for its push of individualism which has been a source of conflict with other cultures that look collectively. A person from China is more prone to look at how their acts affect the whole instead of how it affects them personally. They are more willing to give up and sacrifice for the greater good. America’s individualism has been its backbone and the reason for its success as a world power, but when visiting China it needs to be reined in.
4. Face/Reputation – Reputation of the individual is very important in China. If an action will humiliate someone or ruin a reputation, it is avoided. When shame occurs, the person sacrifices their job or whatever it is that will heal the shame. In America, reputations come and go overnight and in the end usually does not matter. The end result is more of the focus. A person is more likely to overlook a reputation to get the job done.
5. Business Relations – When doing business in China, be prepared for much socializing. Business becomes secondary as the parties get to know each better. If it delays a contract, that is perfectly acceptable as long as the correct social time is allotted for. In America, business associates are usually more aloof. There might be some social gathering but the business is more important and the socializing will be sacrificed to get the job done if needed. Though there seems to be shift in America regarding this. The recognition of networking is becoming more pronounced.
6. Morals – Chinese society places high values on the morals of their people. Marriage is not encouraged until the late twenties. In fact, dating is discouraged early in a young adult’s life and proprieties are expected to be held up. The American culture is much more relaxed and some could even argue that there needs to be more moral emphasize.
7. Recognition of the Dead – One of the time honored traditions of the Chinese is the recognition of the dead. Once a year, all members of a family visit the gravesites of each ancestor and pay their respects. Honoring ancestors is very important in Chinese culture. This is in direct contrast to most Americans who rarely know where the majority of their ancestors are laid to rest. This might be due to the fact that most Americans are immigrants who either have lost the information on grave locations or the locations are in foreign countries. China’s culture is much older and the percentage of immigration is far less.
8. Humility – Humility is a revered virtue in Chinese culture. The success of one’s business or personal life is downplayed while in America the successes are lauded. Most Americans in the fast business world consider humility a sign of weakness. This can be an issue that hurts inter-cultural relations. Be very sensitive to comments and actions in the presence of another culture.
9. Time Sensitivity – Crossing cultures for business can be frustrating when it interferes with getting the job done. Most Americans are very time sensitive when it comes to meetings and deadlines. If the meeting was to commence at 2:00, then all parties are to be present at that time. The Chinese do not view time as an absolute but more as a suggestion. Concern is not expressed for a meeting starting late or ending at a different time. The same can be applied to deadlines. If a report is due on Friday, an American would be waiting for that report to be received before end of business day. The Chinese would not worry if it showed up several days later.
10. Respect – Being sensitive to another person’s needs is very important in Chinese culture. It is expected that you will respect the other person and treat them well. Their needs are met at each encounter. This is a characteristic that unfortunately has fallen on the wayside in most American circles.