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What Americans Need To Learn From Chinese

Popularity 15Viewed 12045 times 2013-7-13 18:38 |System category:Life| Chinese

A recent comment inspired me to write this blog. The comment motivated me to want to share my feelings about differences between Eastern and Western cultures. So, I decided to share it by giving my honest opinion of what I, an American, have learned from my two years in China and what I believe that the West can learn to make life in the West, better.

A huge majority of Chinese people are incredibly tolerant and patient. 

There's no place that this is better revealed than in their driving habits. To honk your horn in traffic in China, you are simply letting others know where you are so that you avoid an accident. In the West, honking your horn is usually done out of anger for how the other person is driving. You hear of numerous cases of 'road rage' in the U.S. 

Americans are impatient and become easily angered while driving. Sometimes, in extreme situations, they become violent. And, since Americans are allowed to own guns, these situations can become quite deadly.

I think that there are several reasons why Chinese are so tolerant and patient. First, they have to share their space with a lot of other people. Second, I think its part of the Chinese culture to live more harmoniously with others. It seems to me that tolerance for others and patience is part of the mindset of Chinese people.

Chinese people are more open and accepting to people regardless of their social or economic status. 

When I came to China, one thing that I was quite surprised about is that people are very open to asking each other how much money that they earn and what they pay for things that they buy. This is something that you wouldn't do in the West (especially in the USA). I pondered as to 'why' this is so different than in the West. I think that people in the West are far more 'status minded'. When pared down to a personal character trait, people in the West have a lot of pride when it comes to having the appearance of being of a higher social status than others. 

Now, with that said, this seems to be changing in China. And not necessarily is it changing for the good. As people have more access and ability to acquire material goods, especially luxury goods, then they become more of what we call 'materialistic.' Healthy economic growth is definitely good for any culture or country. Materialism isn't always so good. It affects the character of people oftentimes in a negative way.

Chinese people value education to a higher extent. 

I'm amazed and truly impressed with the emphasis that Chinese parents put on their child's education. They will do whatever that they need to do and sacrifice whatever they need to sacrifice so that their child can get the best education. I truly admire this about Chinese parents.

The government appears to do a great job in managing the economy of China.

I realize that there are still millions of people who are still living in poverty in China. I'm sure someone will be quick to point that out in the comments. And, it must be acknowledged and never minimized in importance. However, as a nation, China is prospering. The quality of life is improving for tens of millions of people in China. It is certainly no Utopia. But, it is working better than in the West during the global economic problems that we've seen these past few years.

There are policies that are followed by the national/federal government in China that are working as a whole. No one, in any country, has been able to provide a cure all for every person of that country. But, in China, the economy certainly appears to be healthier than in many other countries.

Chinese people make caring for the elderly a major priority.

This is not only respectable and admirable. It is truly inspiring to see. The importance that Chinese people put on caring for parents in their old age is something that isn't quite the priority in the West. Perhaps most people in the West have adequately prepared for their latter years of life and don't need so much assistance from their children. But what inspires me most about Chinese people is that there is truly a heart connection that motivates them to care for their elderly parents. A family strength of connectedness.

These are but a few of the things that I feel that the West can and should learn from the East. As I said earlier, we need to learn from one another and different cultures in order to make the world a better place.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Comment Comment (18 comments)

Reply Report aaooq 2013-7-15 11:56
mutual study can help us better learn from each other, there is indeed something in the West that is worth our study.
Reply Report minijian 2013-7-15 23:35
it seems to be not as good as you say it
Reply Report 1840542824 2013-7-15 23:41
Dear Mr Michael, please contact me on QQ. My Id is 1840542824.
Great article
Reply Report 1840542824 2013-7-15 23:45
No country is perfect, but historical facts of the past 4000 years show that china is the most peaceful nation.
Chinese respect each other. Respect is the foundation of many good things in life.
China is the best nation of the last 4000 years.
Reply Report bear28 2013-7-16 12:10
I agree with your comments about the government and the elderly , however , things are changing with the new generation and it's nothing like you have described , most of the now "single child", because of the wealth increase for some of the population , grows up Arrogant, unethical and disrespectful of others , I have been teaching in china for the last 4 years in a formal education environment , it is obvious that this behaviour is fostered by the competitive parents  that you have described as tolerant and patient, I can understand why Americans can learn something from them .
I would strongly recommend leaving your computer for a little while and spending time amongst the masses.
Reply Report Jeran 2013-7-16 16:43
In fact,what you have seen in Henan Province may be different from the sight in the other place,such as Sichuan Province,Guizhou Province.
Reply Report NYprovince 2013-7-17 10:50
Very diplomatic article ...not realistic in large cities.  The honking means "I have a vehicle, so you must get out of my way".  Some intersections are now using traffic police which has worked wonders with pedestrian/traffic flow.  The competitive values instilled in kids leads to rudeness and indifference to others (Queues are also a major problem).  Although most major cities throughout the world have their own social issues, common sense is very lacking in China.  The most well mannered people I've met here are those who have lived abroad.  They don't have the tendency to cut someone off in line, but will rather wait for their turn.  I've noticed a large campaign on TV to try and teach some basic common sense to the public (such as how to properly enter a subway car, the use of trash bins, etc).  I do admire however, the way a single Chinese man can move an entire apartment on the back of a scooter.  Americans can definitely learn from that!  We use a full-sized SUV just to move a baby around.  There are many new factors being introduced into the Chinese daily life, and I believe people are slowly learning to cope with the changes.  The more international China becomes, the more evolved the social etiquette will surely be.
Reply Report MichaelM 2013-7-18 03:03
aaooq: mutual study can help us better learn from each other, there is indeed something in the West that is worth our study.
Yes. We can learn from each other and find the best of both cultures. Thank you.
Reply Report MichaelM 2013-7-18 03:04
minijian: it seems to be not as good as you say it
This has only been my experience.
Reply Report MichaelM 2013-7-18 03:04
1840542824: No country is perfect, but historical facts of the past 4000 years show that china is the most peaceful nation.
Chinese respect each other. Respect is ...
Yes. This is what I so respect and admire about China. It believes in and practices peace.
Reply Report MichaelM 2013-7-18 03:05
bear28: I agree with your comments about the government and the elderly , however , things are changing with the new generation and it's nothing like you have ...
Thanks for you advice. I do spend a lot of time with a lot of Chinese people every day. This is a reflection what my experience has been.
Reply Report MichaelM 2013-7-18 03:06
Jeran: In fact,what you have seen in Henan Province may be different from the sight in the other place,such as Sichuan Province,Guizhou Province.
Yes. Quite possibly. I've only visited Sichuan Province on one occasion and only for a few days.
Reply Report MichaelM 2013-7-18 03:07
NYprovince: Very diplomatic article ...not realistic in large cities.  The honking means "I have a vehicle, so you must get out of my way".  Some inters ...
I've had those same thoughts. The one thing I don't see is the anger that most American drivers exhibit in their driving.
Reply Report FLC 2013-7-18 17:50
Sir, this is a very good paper, which expresses good opinions from your intimate feeling of a real China in the surface; but factually, also exists some negative aspects needed to be improved.
Reply Report FLC 2013-7-18 17:53
Anyway, I appreciate your special angle of view, in comparision with that of the West.
Reply Report younglu 2013-7-20 14:24
I HAVE MANY FRIENDS FROM AMERICA,SOMETIMES I ASK THEM WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AMERICA AND CHINA ,THEY SAY EYERYTHING IS ALRIGHT ,NO BIG DIFFERENCES ,JUST THE CUSTOM.BUT I LOOK FORWARD TO LIVING AND WORKING IN AMERICA ONEDAY.
Reply Report 槿↖(^ω^)↗ 2013-8-15 14:23
Appreciated that your eyes of China is so perfect,and god bless you that all experience is true and fortunate,pls keep on believeing that Chinese people are good enough to be example.
Reply Report Keats 2013-8-16 00:11
Hi,good article!But What do Chinese need to learn from  Americans ? I think a lot of, political system, scientical techology, spirit of innovation,,,

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MichaelM

Michael is the author of the transformational book, Powerful Attitudes. He is a professional educator, an educational consultant, an author. He lives in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. He enjoys playing guitar and writing poetry. He loves China.

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