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Cultural notes on the Chinese Cultural notes on the Chinese
by Joseph Gatt
2019-07-03 09:03:01
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Cultural notes on the Chinese in no particular order.

-China is a big country but there are basically two Chinas. In the South and in inner China, people are stereotyped as shy, very kind and almost “dull”. In Northeastern China, people are stereotyped as being assertive, shrewd and aggressive.

-Regarding human rights, what almost all my Chinese friends tell me is that China treats everyone fairly and equally, including minorities. There are 56 ethnicities in China, and Han Chinese people tend to tell me that non-Han Chinese get favorable and preferential treatment, including with university quotas, public administration quotas, and even the one-child policy did not apply to non-Han Chinese. My Han Chinese friends insist that non-Han Chinese get perfect treatment, and have no reason to complain. And if the non-Han Chinese complain, the Chinese government has the right to suppress dissent.

chines01_400-China has 1.3 billion mouths to feed so China over the years passed all kinds of deals around the world. In exchange for construction projects (and in some cases bribes) China got access to agricultural fields and fishing zones around the world. These deals were passed in most countries, including in Asia, Africa and Latin America. So China is not really empire-building, it's mostly trying to make sure they have access to food.

-China is a big consumer of oil and water, and needs lots of it. So China will tend to get oil and water where it can, even when that involves breaking sanctions.

-Up until 1910, the Chinese legal system consisted of 7 laws and 5 punishments. There were just 7 laws for the entire country, but the jurisprudence is thousands and thousands of pages. For the anecdote the 7th law was “women should not be envious or jealous” and for women jealousy was a sin punishable by death. In sum, the Chinese like simple rules, don't give them too many pages of rules, because they probably won't follow them.

-The Chinese tend to avoid direct confrontation, but can be hysterical, almost bestial, when confronted or provoked. Most conflicts have to do with gossip and rumors, as the Chinese gossip a great deal behind closed doors and rumors tend to happen all the time. If you tell the Chinese something, there's a good chance it could be distorted. They call it “Chinese whispers” for a reason.

-In China, to this day, “players” have a very bad reputation. Most Chinese men will have dated one person their entire life, and will marry that person. If you cheat on your wife, you will tend to be considered a “gangster.” China is not Japan or Korea, and “women” don't entertain in China. Wives in China are expected to be filial and devoted, and husbands will tend to come home and play video games or speculate on the stock market.

-China has many regional languages and Mandarin is only one language. During business or political meetings, if you bring a Mandarin interpreter, the Chinese could bring in a team of Hakka speakers who will speak Mandarin to your interpreter but Hakka when they consult among themselves.

-The Chinese government, and most Chinese companies, will set a sales target or GDP target and won't care how they get there. So there's a tendency to cut corners to meet or surpass objectives, and even a tendency to cook the books to make it sound like targets have been met.

-Finally, regarding copyright violations and patent infringement, and other spying, the main problem is the Chinese market has a lot of specificities that most other markets don't have. For example, businesses change all the time and reinvent themselves all the time in China. If Coca Cola had been Chinese, it would probably be in the cell phone business today. Another specificity is Chinese consumers tend to be very unloyal to brands. Cigarette brands change all the time, so do food brands and car brands and the rest. It's this nature of the Chinese market that needs to be discussed.

-Furthermore, the Chinese need to understand that when American authors find out that their books are being passed around for free in China, or that tech company find that their tech products are being sold in China without a license, Americans tend to be irritated by that. I know that Chinese will go like “we don't mind if our books or our tech is being passed around in the US without our consent.” So a middle ground needs to be found for that.

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