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China Or USA: Which Offers A Better LIfe?

Popularity 13Viewed 8961 times 2013-4-16 03:39 |System category:Life| ask, University, volunteer, English, culture

Nearly every Sunday morning, I attend and volunteer teaching English at an English Corner just west of the campus of Zhengzhou University. Many people ask me questions about English and western culture. 

Last Sunday, a man asked me, "Michael, do you think life is better in China for people or in the USA?" Wow! What a question. 

First, I am an American. I love my country. I'm also a very positive person and always want to find what's good about everything that I can.

Second, I truly endeavor to be honest and fair in my evaluation of things when asked for my opinion. As an American, I'm feel free to give my opinion in being truthful about what I see as good versus what I see that isn't.

Third, (and quite important), he asked this question in front of about 60 Chinese people. HA! HA! HA!

Though it might sound like I'm not answering the question directly (which would be an accurate observation), my answer was simply, "Well, its different in either country." Let me explain.

1. Crime - Crime is obviously much lower in China than in the USA. I feel much safer here than I do even in my own small hometown in Texas. I see women and young girls who walk down the street late in the evening who are obviously not afraid of being attacked or assaulted here in China. This is VERY important to life wherever you live. China is far better than most countries I've ever visited (and I 've visited 26 countries in my life.)

2. Happiness - From my observation, people in China seem very happy with their lives. At least they certainly don't complain as much as people in the USA about life. Perhaps I don't hear their complaints because they won't voice their complaints to a foreigner like me. But, I can only comment as a result of my observations. In the USA, complaining seems like a national pastime. 

3. Treating Others Well/Being A Good Person - Again, I can only give my observation as a foreigner in China. The majority of my encounters with people here have proven to me that people in China treat others well. I've had a few negative experiences where I wasn't treated well here in China. But, as I said, the vast majority of people treat me very well. In nearly 21 months here, I've felt very welcomed. Most people have been extremely kind to me.

4. Lifestyle and Money - I think that this is a topic that is more difficult for me to give an opinion. Simply because, as a foreign English teacher, I make good money. I'm not buying BMWs, Mercedes Benzes or even a new home here, but I know that I make far more money than the average Chinese person. Plus, I work really hard and have been rewarded accordingly. I'm also sure that I make more than the average foreign English teacher. Again, I work hard with a positive attitude. Hard work and a positive attitude usually gets rewarded well.

5. Family - This is a tough subject to comment on. Overall it seems to me that family is important to Chinese. More so than in the USA. However, I have observed some negatives about families here. For example, I've talked to many students whose parents are still married but the father doesn't live with them. I've observed that this is much more common than I would have ever thought at first glance at Chinese families. Divorce is much lower in China than the USA. But, it seems that one reason it is lower is that the laws here do not favor the woman in a divorce contrary to divorce laws in the USA which do favor the woman in divorce.

6. Freedom - This is a subject that honestly has surprised me. Most people in the West think that there isn't so much individual freedom in China. In fact, there is a lot of criticism about China regarding individual freedom. I'm not a person who concerns himself with politics much. Even in the USA. I'm not at all a 'politically active' person. I focus on what I'm here on the earth to do and not so much on what the government does. What I've observed here is that people are very free to live their lives. Again, this has been a surprise to me as I expected it to be more restrictive from all I've heard about China before coming here. The only restrictions that have really directly affected me are the ones regarding the Internet. But, even there, it really isn't all that restrictive.

America has many problems. Its always easier for me to see such problems when I'm abroad as I am now here in China. America is far from being a perfect place. 

However, there are things that I miss about my home in the USA. America is cleaner than China. 'Keeping America Beautiful' is something that is deep in the mindset in the USA. Its part of our cultural mindset. Public toilets are much cleaner than the ones I've observed in China. Americans are more structured and organized in school and business than what I've experienced in China. There is more of a focus on individual rights and personal satisfaction in the USA (even though this has not, in my opinion, produced happier people). Americans are not concerned so much with 'saving face' as Chinese are. It is very important in China but not so in the USA. I think most Americans value truth over 'saving face' ( I wrote about this in a separate blog).

Overall, my assessment and conclusion is this: I'm happy with my life here in China and will likely stay here for many years to come. The negatives I've observed are far overshadowed by the positives here. I lived in the USA for more than a half century. It is my homeland and that will never change. I love America. But I also love China. I love the Chinese people and the rich culture here. As a whole, I've had a very positive experience here which continues nearly every day. Is it better than the USA? Well, it is different than the USA and I'm enjoying my very rich experience here.

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


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Comment Comment (9 comments)

Reply Report vicky715 2013-4-16 10:51
More foreigners in China now, and more Chineses abroad sametime. Learn the good aspects from each other.
Reply Report DSseeing 2013-4-16 11:00
About family, I want to make a point, why is the dicorce rate is lower than that in US?
If a Chinense husband cheats on her wife for once, the wife would endure the pain and probablt give her husband another chance. If a Chinese wife cheats, then the marriage is most likely finished. Why? It's very hard for a divorced woman to remarry; Chinese wife would choose to stay in marriage for the sake of her child; the proper owner is always her husband, the law doesn't favor a wife.

Would be this the situation in USA? I quess not.
Reply Report MichaelM 2013-4-16 11:58
DSseeing: About family, I want to make a point, why is the dicorce rate is lower than that in US?
If a Chinense husband cheats on her wife for once, the wife w ...
Thank you for your comments. In the U.S., the law would favor the wife most of the time.
Reply Report Joy.guo 2013-4-16 20:43
Michael,

Thanks for sharing us your opinions about China and USA.
During the last 30 years, China has made great progress, but we still have so many problems such as left-behind children, education and endowment insurance for the aged in rural regions etc.

As you know, each coin has two sides. It's really hard to say which country is better.
Anyway, most of us in these two countries are working hard for
better life. Am I right?
Reply Report flysonw 2013-4-17 16:46
you are fair and rational.but many chinese people don't think so,they alwasys consider everything in U.S is better.
Reply Report MichaelM 2013-4-17 18:10
flysonw: you are fair and rational.but many chinese people don't think so,they alwasys consider everything in U.S is better.
Thank you. It is my intention to be fair and objective. I appreciate your comment.
Reply Report stonetrouble 2013-4-19 22:11
I am an American who has lived in China for 3 years. It is number three, treating others well, that most impresses me. It is especially evident in traffic. Situations that would enrage Americans and have them screaming at each other are handled here with calm and skill. If a roadway suddenly changes from three lanes to one nobody is upset. The flow of traffic is hardly impeded. People work together. In America, in that situation, everyone just fights for themselves, full of anger towards others.
Reply Report MichaelM 2013-4-21 05:20
stonetrouble: I am an American who has lived in China for 3 years. It is number three, treating others well, that most impresses me. It is especially evident in tra ...
Very good point. Yes. Traffic is often very harmonious. I guess it is part of the Chinese cultural mindset.
Reply Report fluteyi 2013-4-21 21:14
The positive attitude and diligent work are really worth our respect! And moreover, from one of my foreign teachers, Daniel D, I feel the naievty , creativity and retrospective aspect of Americans.

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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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