Culture differ from place to place in the world. There are many differences between Americans and Chinese culture. The most obvious is that the culture in their festivals. For example The Spring Festival in China and Christmas in western countries, the Chinese Spring Festival has no religious background while Christmas has something to do with God and there is Santa Claus(圣诞老人) with
white heard to bring children presents. Another difference is that people are very informal in social situations in the United States. They call each other by their given names when they meet for the first time. In China, however, this will be regarded as quite impolite. Another difference is in topics in conversation. It is quite all right to ask a Chinese the cost of his possessions while it is quite rude to do so in the United States. The Chinese do not care much if they are asked about their age, their political and religious beliefs whereas these kinds of topics are usually avoided in conversations in the United States. Dietary?饮食? is a kind of culture, it is also differ
from China to Western countries.
The difference between China and western
The cultures of China and the West really distinguish each other a lot. This is because the culture systems are two separate systems on the whole. There are several aspects we can discuss. And from this, we can understand or at least get an idea, that is, the difference between China culture and western one.
1. Major Pairs of Contrastive Values in Different Cultures Western culture is based on individualism rather than on collectivism. For instance, in the US, you always talk about individual rights, instead of placing the whole society above your own self. This is clearly different in China where a country, society or family is placed above your own self. That is a culture based on collectivism.
Now, we discuss a case.
Wang, one of my best friends, is an excellent engineer in BOSCH (Peking). Joe is his new German friend who came to China to work in Peking only two months ago. They work in the same department. Last month, Wang was promoted as deputy director of the department. Hearing the good news one day, Joe suggested going out for a drink. But to his great surprise, Wang told him that he had declined the promotion. When asked why, Wang took a Chinese saying like “树大招风” in broken English as the response which made Joe even more puzzled.
“树大招风”means a big tree is easily destroyed by the wind. Just like the big tree, a famous person or a well-known person will be easily exposed to the public criticism.
Joe comes from German, which tends to be defined as a more individualist culture. In his culture, people value independence and have pride in being unique rather than similar to others. As a result, they do not fear the actions that call attention to the self. In fact they often seek the notice of others.
While in collectivist culture, great importance is attached to a person's conformity instead of their uniqueness. Consequently, people are not likely to socialize in ways that draw attention to the self. Standing out on one’s own is not favored and would even arouse criticism from the others. They are afraid of being different from the others.Wang is a Chinese, whose culture could be regarded as collectivist-oriented, he is also afraid of being independent and unique. To be promoted to the position of deputy director means not only responsibility but also uniqueness and fame. Although he is an excellent engineer, probably he doesn’t want to be more famous by being deputy director with the fear that a famous person tends to be the target of criticism and can easily be found fault with, just as the fat pig and big tree would first take the risk of losing their lives
Greeting is the first step to form a culture, because people begin to communicate with others. The individuals become a community. How do we Chinese greet each other? Informally, if we meet a friend in the street, we are used to say: “Hi, have you had your meal?” or “Where are you going?” When it is the case of two gentlemen, they tend to shake hands.
However, in the western countries, the above questions are just questions, not greeting at all. They may think you’re inviting them to dinner if you ask about their meals. Usually, they’ll just give each other a smile
or greet with a “Hi.”. They’ll shake hands only in some formal situations. By the way, Westerners can leave a party or meeting halls without a formal conge, nor should they shake hands with every attendee like most of us will do here.
The ways people eat, that is, the table manner, really distinguish a lot. The reason for this is probably because of the different dining tools and menus.
Chinese use chopsticks. The thin and long chopsticks cannot be used to cut food, so we usually use our teeth to act as knives. We hold our food, meat or vegetable, with the chopsticks, send them to the mouths, bite off a part of it and remain the other part on the chopsticks. That’s the usual way we eat. We are also used to hold up our bowls when having rice or soup. It is very easy to understand why we hold up our bowls. Because using sticks, instead of using spoon, is impossible to pick up rice or soup. But all these habits are considered rude in the Western countries. The etiquette in the West requests that when eating, bowls and plates cannot leave the tables. Food should be cut by knives to fit into the mouths. Of course your mouth cannot touch the plates or bowls. So the regular process is like this. You cut your steak on the plate with fork and knife, send the meat cube into the mouth with fork and nothing will be returned back but the fork alone.
Up to now, we can see there are really a lot of difference between China and Western culture. But we cannot deny any of the cultures. We should get to learn how to coordinate the different cultures.
By the way, as I know, Chinese culture and Chinese people are always complicated for a foreigner. A foreigner is really difficult to understand Chinese culture even living in China several years later. And there are
also a lot of misunderstandings about China. In my opinion, several factors lead to this result.
The first and also the most important is value. Chinese people are collectivism. They are afraid to be different even during communication. This stops them to express and talking freely and everyone believe “silence is gold” at last. Without communication, how can a foreigner learn Chinese? There is only an imagination about China for them. So misunderstanding is inevitably.
The second is the unbalance between fast developing and publicizing. As well know China has a rapidly developing at the recent 20 years. For example before 25 years ago there is nearly no mansion higher than 10 floors in Peking and now 30 floors CDB is just normal in Peking. And just 15 years ago telephone (fixed-phone) is a luxury commodity for Chinese. But according to the market report (2007) of information industry department there are nearly 487,4 million handy users in China. Comparing with the developing speed of China the appearance of China for foreign maybe still stay in 20 years even 50 years ago. Some of them maybe still stay in 100 years ago. Please believe me and this is really not a joke. So I think Chinese people should be more open to let the world to know China to learn China. Only in this way can reduce the misunderstanding about China!