What should every American know about China?
Luke Miers, lived in Chengdu, Sichuan, China (2017-2018)
I'm not American, but I do have some thoughts on the topic:
From a western perspective, trying to understand China is like trying to complete a puzzle that gets bigger by two pieces for every one that you put in the right place. We make the mistake of assuming China is a large, grey, rectangular monolith. China is not the USSR. It is a remarkably flexible capitalist country populated by hardworking pragmatists.
The competition there is brutal on all levels. There is fierce competition for places in schools, the workforce, the housing market, for a marriage partner and almost anything else you could name. The Chinese are used to using just about every waking hour to attain these things, with no guarantee as to whether or not their efforts will pay off. For most, the reward for this effort is small.
The western university student casually saunters into the library at 2pm, only to find the place mostly full of Chinese students. Grrrr! Why do they take up all the space?! Don't they know other people want to study too?! They got there at 9 in the morning and will be there all day.
Jerry Mc Kenna, I have voted in the US since 1972
China should be judged without preconceptions. It should not be judge by standards that are purely American. We often judge countries by how well they fit 18th century standards designed for Great Britain or other parts of Europe. We might as well judge a game of baseball by the rules for soccer.
China was a very poor country after the revolution, often identical with India, but after 1978 it grew much faster.
The Chinese weren’t looking for diversity of religion nor were they looking for freedom of speech in the Western sense. They were looking to improve the economy of the country. Using the standards of the game they were playing they have done very well.
Too many Americans are worried that the rise of China will cause problems for the US. Does anyone think that China wants to disrupt the existing commerce between the US and China? Can anyone point to a Chinese military exercise that was aggressive?
China is not the US, it is not a Western country. It is not a threat to us.
Robert Free, lived in China
It demands very little from other countries, but it demands those things very strongly
Aside from food and traffic, it's quite safe
It's a diverse, multicultural society
People and government are more interested in peace and prosperity than democracy
They have a valuable contribution to make to the world order that could be made much more valuable if America views China as a potential partner and if China does not overreact every time another country says something they don't agree with.
The world cyber war has started and China, Russia and the USA are the biggest armies. The first country to defend properly will win. None of them have so far.
Chinese are overall, practical, scientific, studious and diligent. America used to be these things. If America does not return to these qualities, all the bombs and trade walls in the world won't prevent it being surpassed by yet another country.
Although America has invaded China, China has never invaded America.
Desmond Ng, A Chinese by birth, a Chinese by upbringing.
Don’t immediately assume what works for you must work for others, and that if others don’t share your thoughts and ways that must mean they can’t succeed.
I’ve read so many Americans debate endlessly online about this. How can they bring democracy to his totalitarian regime? Why do they continue to show off their false growth narratives. How much are the Chinese paying me to write this answer?
That maybe China as of this moment doesn’t need democracy? China is rapidly becoming richer and more powerful, almost reaching superpower status.
Also, if even Donald Trump has enough grasp on world economy to assert that China is becoming rich enough to challenge the US, how come so many still attempt to explain away China’s growth as lies or deceit?
Sorry but I’m not allowed to disclose that last part.
tl;dr Some countries have different values than you, some very different.
Fran Northouse, Teacher
China is a vast country, like the US, with modern cities and sophisticated populations. It is filled with people working hard to achieve what we have always called the “American Dream” but which is very much a modern Chinese dream these days. The Chinese currently have the “Protestant work ethic” that made America great.
China is a force to be reckoned with, but the people generally have no desire to overpower any other country. They just want to get ahead in their own lives
Ward Chartier, Retired. Former manufacturing ops GM (2017-present)
China has 5000 years of recorded history.
The Chinese language is complex and supports authors expressing themselves in equally complex ways in literature, poetry, science, government, and spiritual beliefs.
Chinese fine arts, particularly ceramics, bronze castings, calligraphy, wood block printing, paintings, are simply fabulous.
Chinese people have a deep respect for learning. Scholars, professors, and teachers are at the top of the traditional Chinese social hierarchy. I’ve seen huge bookstores in China full to overflowing on weekends. People want to buy books and learn something.
Chinese society has most of the aspirations that people around the world also have. People want to raise their children, have jobs, socialize with their friends, have hobbies, and enjoy life.
Billy Hughes, lives in China (2012-present)
That they call you mei guo ren - which directly translated means ‘Beautiful country people’
Yes, they think you’re beautiful, or America is. The Chinese name for America is ‘Beautiful Country’ 美国 (mei guo)
That’s a massive compliment they’re paying you right there whereas the stupider Americans on Quora/Fox News/Alt Right websites are calling Chinese people savages, brutes and commies. Who comes out looking good from such an exchange?
What you should know is that there is a lot of love for America amongst ordinary Chinese people and that you need to come here and see it for yourself.
That’s what I think you should know.
在Quora/Fox News/Alt right网站上，愚蠢的美国人称中国人为野蛮人。在这样的交流中谁的表现更好？
William Regan, I've been living in China for seven years.
I think there are a lot of misconceptions Americans have about Chinese people. Some of them might be due to the media, some to education/upbringing, and some due to just plain ignorance.
1.Chinese people, as a whole, still have relatively positive things to say about the USA. People here seemed to like Obama. A lot of people, believe it or not, still like Trump—despite the escalating trade war.
2.China provides a glimpse of “the future”. Chinese consumers don’t carry the same prejudices and associations with technology. Most people in China embrace technology as something that greatly improves their lives. “The future is now” is an accurate way to describe China—especially in the mobile tech scene. Westerners are much slower to adopt new technologies—and more wary about their privacy.
3.China is a land of massive discrepancy. Cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, and Guangzhou could be considered more modern than their European or American counterparts. There are world class subway systems and high speed trains, massive and modern infrastructure, ubiquitous WiFi coverage, facial recognition cameras, and robot assistants at hospitals. But just travel one hour outside these cities — and facilities and infrastructure can honestly be compared to Subsaharan Africa (I’ve been there). The differences between a 1st tier city and a small town or village are very pronounced and impossible to ignore.
4.In one way, China has a similar demographic profile as the USA. You have elderly, retired people who live simple lives and don’t use computers, phones, or the internet much. Their sense of society might be socializing with friends over morning tea — or talking with neighbors at the local market. (While elderly Americans might be found socializing at a local church or neighborhood organization) You have “working age” people with mortgages, children to raise, and whose outlooks have been shaped by their experiences of a poorer China + a rising China. Then you have a group that might be compared to millennials in the USA — a group the elder generations might view as lazy, too busy playing video games, and too self-absorbed. I think the same can be said about American society.
I think the most important thing to take away from this is the amount of similarities both Americans and Chinese share with each other. Appreciating our differences makes life more colorful for all—but recognizing our commonalities allows us to see each other in a more humane light, instead of viewing any one not like ourselves as an alien or adversary who needs to be enlightened, righted or wronged.
Will Wagner, lives in Arizona
That is a hard question. Given what is happening in North Korea, Americans should at least have a sense of what took place in the Korean War. I would bet most Americans are unaware that the United States and China fought a war
Lilly, the other thing is that Americans have some sense of how the Chinese and the Chinese Nation has seen its place in the world over the past 2000 years. It is not complicated and it gives Americans a sense of their decision making process. Most Americans project American thinking onto the Chinese.
Henry Kissinger; On China . The first 50–100 pages of this very easy to read and very enjoyable book will give you a good foundation. It's in the library
1.China is roughly as big as the USA (including Hawaii and Alaska) in terms of landmass.
2.There are way more ethnic Chinese on earth than USA population.
3.China is not eager for a war with any country especially the USA.
4.The official language of China is not Cantonese but Standard Mandarin, although the former one might be more common in Chinatowns in cities of the USA.
5.There are other Chinese languages such as Hakka, Ping, Wu and Jin. Other languages are also used in certain areas of China such as Korean, Tibetan and Uyghur languages.
6.There are 56 officially recognized ethnic groups living in China. Han is the dominant ethnicity while others include Manchus, Zhuang, Hui, Miao, Thai, Tibetans, Uyghurs, Mongols, etc.
7.Beijing is the capital city of China and Shanghai is the largest city and port. Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 and became a special administrative region ever since. Same for Macau in 1999. There are other great cities in China such as Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Tianjin and Xi’an. Xi’an was one of the three biggest cities in the world between 7th and 8th century, along with Baghdad and Istanbul.
8.China has all these potential world cities, but it also has many undeveloped rural areas. While Shanghai is as developed as Chicago, some remote areas in the west like Guizhou are as poor as some African countries.
9.China claims Taiwan, while Taiwan claims China, too.
10.China is one of the oldest civilizations in Asia. There are many Dynasties in Chinese history, such as Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han, Jin, Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing. Among them, Han and Tang are generally regarded as peaks of ancient China.
11.Religion and spiritual practice are diverse in China. Traditionally Chinese form an unique type of practice which combines Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism into one. Other major religions are also accepted in China.
12.China has the best highway and high speed railway systems in the world. 7 of top 10 busiest harbors in the world are located in China.
13.Not all Chinese people are good at math, science, musical instruments or martial arts. Not all Chinese people are rich. Not all Chinese people hate Japan or India. Not all Chinese people like sweet food.
14.China does have territory disputes with several neighbors especially with Japan, India and South China Sea countries. However, it is not true that China has disputes with every neighbor.
16.It is true that some people in China, especially those in Guangdong province, eat dogs. However, those dogs are not pet dogs. They are raised in certified factories just like other livestock such as pigs and turkeys. It’s just one of thousands of cultural differences between China and the Western civilization.
17.NBA is one of the most widely watched foreign sport leagues in China. Perhaps there are more NBA fans in China than in any other countries except the USA. However, NFL, NHL and MLB are not so popular in China. Maybe they are not as popular as MLS or even NCAA.
18.The USA was among the Alliance of Eight Powers that invaded China during the Boxers Rebellion of 1900. However, China did not cede any territory to American in treaties signed afterwards. Later, as proposed by President Angell of University of Michigan, the USA returned war compensation in those treaties to China as an educational fund. Tsinghua University was established with those findings. Currently Tsinghua is one of the best universities in China and also a top 50 university worldwide. Five universities in the USA (Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell and Michigan) also began to admit Chinese students with those fundings.
19.Emperor Taizong of Tang Dynasty is generally regarded as one of the most outstanding emperors in ancient China. In his tomb, there used to be sculptures of six war horses. They were based on six war horses that fought in battles with Taizong. Currently there are 2 left on site. Where are the other 4? They are in a museum at University of Pennsylvania.
Shuang “Sophia” Xü-Dehls, ESOL Coach at The Educational Alliance (2019-present)
China is a big, multi-ethnic country, with more than 80 different dialects and minor languages being spoken. Not to mention that our population is 1.4 billion. Thus, one or ten or even a hundred Chinese you have met in your life can’t represent all the Chinese. There isn’t a single stereotype which is big enough to cover a nation with 1.4 billion people.