Socialization and Social Mores: Political Correctness and Multiculturalism: Immigration and Assimilation: Chinese Culture: - A Chinese businessman I met on the plane from Hong Kong to Wuhan explained to me that he is being paid big money to hold seminars in Mainland China. He is very happy to take the money, but admits that it is a complete waste of time, for no one will listen to him or 'learn' about business procedures. 'The Chinese businessman', he informed me, 'thinks only of the immediate sale and of making the greatest profit possible, and never considers his loss when the potential customer turns away and goes elsewhere.'
I've Re-read these two installments, and cannot find anything in them that I might now (2009) consider to be inappropriate or in need of correcting.
In fact rather than back away from some of the accusations of my alleged racism, I have continued to write articles about Political Correctness and Racism, which you can find listed at the end of the article.
In view of the continuing political events around the world in relation to terrorism, I think that this article deserves highlighting.
I will just make one point clear:
This article is actually about the hypocrisy of Political Correctness and Multiculturalism thought police.
Note also that there are some References and quotations not found in the original August 2004 Version
Western Socialisation Versus Life in China
I've been looking this week at a variety of stories written by westerners, of their experiences in China. In particular there was an article about socialisation, the observations of which, I felt, were worthy of further comment. Succinctly, it pointed out that western perception of morality and decency has been 'foisted' on us by an uptight media. The writer points out that his personal worldview has been challenged and changed in China, and now reflects a more honest and decent attitude than that under which he was raised.
There are several things about which I would like to write to back up the writer's viewpoints and experiences, but before I proceed to do that in next week's newsletter, today I want to introduce the concept of socialisation, by discussing the issue of Western perceptions of Chinese Communism.
When I came to China, I was completely unaware or unconscious of personal bias toward, or preconceptions of China and its' people. (I would point out here that my decision to come to China was a spur of the moment thing). I was aware of course that as a westerner, I disliked and disapproved of communism and therefore felt sorry for the Chinese people. But after 18 months in China, (7 years now) I can say without qualification, that every day brings for me, a new appreciation of Mao Ze Dong and the Chinese Communist Government. In fact, just 10 minutes before commencing this article, I screamed at a Chinese teacher that 'If Chairman Mao had been like the teachers I am teaching this summer, then China would have been a province of Japan or Russia by now'.
I forget the exact statistics, but from my readings in Chinese history, the Communists were outnumbered Ten to One by the KuoMingTang. Nevertheless they succeeded. Why? Because they had ability to plan, ability to think, ability to anticipate, and an overwhelming desire to succeed. If you had ever spent time living in (rural) China, you would know that the cultural norms here, center around a couple of well used phrases such as, "It doesn't matter, it is not important, and don't worry about it". Add to this, 'It is normal', and you have a mindset that just 'accepts' what happens and otherwise is not interested in doing anything unless 'forced'.
Now you might find what I have written objectionable, but let me ask you this. If there was an illegal 'strip joint' beside your main shopping center, would you report that to the authorities? Not here, because 'it doesn't matter, it is not important! Beijing is a long way away, and we do not care about what the government says!' (Besides, who would you report it to? The ones being paid not to do their jobs?)
This summer, two summer camps in this town failed, because the organisers lacked the most basic organisational skills. I was asked to help organise one of them. At every turn and objection; at every piece of advice offered; at every instance in which I warned the organisers that they were following a recipe for disaster, they said: 'Do not worry' and 'That is not important!' And so they failed. One organiser lost 6000 RMB and the other's loss is unknown to me.
I'm reading this now in October 2009 and laughing because I recently quit my job at EET Baotou where the owner also refused to listen to anything I advised.
A Chinese businessman I met on the plane from Hong Kong to Wuhan explained to me that he is being paid big money to hold seminars in Mainland China. He is very happy to take the money, but admits that it is a complete waste of time, for no one will listen to him or 'learn' about business procedures. 'The Chinese businessman' he informed me, 'thinks only of the immediate sale and of making the greatest profit possible, and never considers his loss when the potential customer turns away and goes elsewhere.'(Oh this is too Funny! October 2009.)
As a personal example of this, in Wuhan once, I inquired about the price of the HP27 and HP28 ink cartridges for my printer. The salesman must have been new, because he did not know the price. He had to check the catalogue, and in the process I was able to see the price. For the two cartridges, the price was 280RMB.
The next time I went back, I had a different salesman. He wanted 450RMB. I let him know that I would pay 280 RMB but he refused, so I went to another shop. There they wanted 350RMB. I walked out. I returned a few minutes later, and using maths, indicated that I was prepared to buy three sets of cartridges for a total price of 840 RMB. Everybody in the store got involved in a conspiratorial discussion, and finally agreed. Giving me a 20 RMB discount, they charged me 820 RMB.
Many have embraced the modern world and learned the necessary lessons, even in this little town. Yesterday a teacher who is temporarily staying with me went out to buy 8 kilos of pork for me. He paid 3 RMB per kilo too much, and fifty percent of the product was pure fat. While many people here tell me that they think I must always be cheated in the marketplace, it is generally the converse which holds true. I keep 'au fait' with prices, and most businesses here have worked out that while I might buy big, I will generally not let myself get ripped off, and if I do, there will be no second opportunity to repeat the process. Succinctly, they tend to offer me the best price straight away, because they know I won't stick around if the first price is too high. Some have changed their traditional approach when it comes to dealing with this foreigner.
Now on the point of changing from traditional thinking to something more modern, I would draw your attention to a press conference I read about a few months ago. A Chinese politician was being interviewed by the western press, and was asked about the introduction of Democratic processes into China. His reply was that 'this will take a long time. Chinese people are not very well educated. It will take about 50 years before the people are ready for democracy.'
I could just imagine what the journalists were thinking. I on the other hand, just laughed. 'Fifty years?' I thought, ' More like 150 years!' (I can almost hear your condemnation. 'What a racist this BenDedek must be!'). Before you condemn me for my particular take on Chinese Democracy, let me tell you what I learned at a particular university sometime before the interview to which I refer.
Based upon my personal observations, I entered into a lengthy discussion with some 'professors', about China and its' future, and this is what they told me. "If democracy were introduced into China tomorrow, next week we would have a bloodbath. The country would fall apart.' My personal observations lead me to concur.
We in the West decry communism, because we have a particularly 'western' politico/cultural worldview. But China has never known democracy. The system in place in China today is no different to that under which the people of China have lived for the last 2000 years. The standard of living and education of the people however, has grown and progressed in leaps and bounds under Communism.
I live in rural China. I know the rich and the poor. I see the poverty and the waste (of money). I see the disregard for the poor, and the arrogance of the rich. I know the types of people who are getting rich without paying taxes. I follow the political scene in China and read the Governments blueprints for the country's economic future. I know that the Government is trying to even out the system, to make it work better, and to make it more honest and accountable. I know that they are trying to lighten the burden of the peasant farmers. I know they are striving to raise the standards of living and education in this country. I see their attempts to keep the country in one piece whilst trying to bring the people into the 20th century (forget about the 21st).
In short, my first hand knowledge of daily Chinese life, leads me to admire the Government's ability to have succeeded so well, in the short time it has been in power, and I know that without Communism, China would not be where it is today. I also know that the future is precarious, and that at any time, a return could be made to more severe times and policies.
We in the west have been raised to hate communists, but if you tell students and teachers here that they are communists, they will object. They know that their Government is a Communist Government, but equally they know that they are not communists. There are communists around me, but in their daily lifestyle and attitudes, they behave no differently to the capitalists (socialists).
Our western perceptions of China have been (politically) spoon fed us from a bygone era until the present. We have failed to understand that 'we' have little in common 'culturally' with the people of China. Our 'political and cultural' mindsets began to change hundreds of years ago, at least as far back as the French revolution, and probably further than that in England.
On the flip side, the Chinese remember how the west 'forced' it's way into China, and took what it wanted. They are understandably apprehensive about and defensive toward the west.
Today, there is a new relationship between China and the West, (most notably with the USA), and once again, our worldviews are being politically 'spoon fed' us via the media. Here I sit this summer watching everyone make a fuss over the American Teachers who are teaching in this school. The teachers are the center of attention, and naturally they love it. Undoubtedly they have by now, grown tired of the question, 'Do you think Chinese people are very friendly?'. 'Yes!' they will have declared. 'They are very friendly!'. And indeed they are!
But as I watch these teachers, I think back to all the times that I have heard students, teachers and others declare their hatred for the imperialist aggressor - The United States of America. They know the political rhetoric of the past 60 years; rhetoric that is constantly reinforced (albeit it in a more politically correct way) in the press, through references to Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Taiwan and North Korea.
My students express surprise when I tell them that the USA helped defend China against the Japanese; they are stunned when informed that the USA will not supply Taiwan with offensive capabilities; they are disbelieving when they hear that the USA was instrumental in getting the People's Republic recognised by the United Nations; they are shocked to learn that the official policy of the USA is that Taiwan belongs to China. Whatever official rhetoric may be forthcoming from the Government, the man in the street not only sees America as 'an evil empire', but as the future opponent in a war for control of the world. Hopefully as internet use spreads, and as ability to read English spreads, the majority of people will begin to alter their perceptions.
We cannot judge the Chinese via the lens of our own culture or history, although this is the most frequent accusation made against me by the students and faculty in my school. Every day I fight against Chinese Culture, and every day I quote the Communist Government's stated aims and goals in it's continuing struggle to get the Chinese people to read, write and speak English. Students here can study English for Ten hours per week for three years in High School, in addition to their three years in Junior School and four years in an English Major at University, and still not be able to string three sentences together. They have been forced to learn English Grammar, but have never been forced to learn to 'Speak' the language.
My students have told me that foreigners do not have the right to force Chinese people to do anything. I asked my class of Teachers during this current Summer Camp if this is true. They all agreed. This morning I wrote on the board.
"Foreigners do not have the right to force Chinese people to do things, so today I will not force you. Each student (Teacher) must stand and read a passage from their textbook. I will not force anyone to do this. I will just sit here and read my Harry Potter Novel, and wait for people to do what is required.'
Over the next thirty minutes I had three teachers out of 80, stand and read something, for a combined total of about three minutes. Finally I was castigated by one person who said: 'You should talk to us!' (This was her third criticism in 30 minutes. Meanwhile she would neither read aloud nor speak to the class).
I went over to the blackboard and wrote something that was designed to make them angry, and then left the classroom. I called in at the office to advise my co-ordinator that as per my prior notice (before class commenced), that I was going home and would give the teachers no more lessons today. (Yes! I planned the whole thing!)
These are teachers. They are educated. They are in this summer course to improve their speaking and hearing skills. If I speak the entire lesson they tell me I should give them more opportunity to speak. When I ask them to speak, they won't. When I devote a lesson to Aural Comprehension, they say that they do not like listening to the tapes. When I tried to give them a lesson on the use of Synonyms, they told me it is too hard, but that lesson was designed specifically for and with the help of, a 13 year old boy who had not yet begun his 2nd year of English studies.
When I brought that boy to class and asked him to address the class, he was so torn to shreds by teachers who argued with him, that he has refused to come back. Why? "Because students should never be better than teachers!"
I discovered a 12 year old boy in my class the other day. He has just finished his first year of English studies. When I saw him sitting at a desk (remember this is a class for teachers), I made him stand. At my fastest speed, I asked him his name, his age, the name of his school, where he comes from, and who he lives with. He immediately answered each question. He was not afraid to speak, and he heard and understood at a fast English speaking rate. How? Because I taught him for one month last March/April. But the teachers say that my lessons are too hard.
One of my grade two students went to a visiting foreign teacher's class for two lessons, and came away asking me why that teacher had been speaking slowly. My students learn to hear and understand faster than others, because I allow them no excuses for failing to try. The teachers in this current course believe however, that my expectations are too high. Eleven to eighteen year olds who are prepared to 'actually work' don't find it difficult at all. What I am up against here, is Chinese culture. Raymond Zhou Print Edition of China Daily English Edition July 1st 2006:
The purpose is not to use the language in real-world communication, but to pass tests that prove you have this ability. Under normal circumstances, these two should mean the same. But it could be otherwise as shown in the following story.
A Chinese student with extremely high scores for American standardized tests was admitted into one of the Ivy League universities. But his professors soon found out that he could hardly understand them in the classroom. Suspecting that he cheated in the tests, school administrators demanded he repeat them. Again, he passed with flying colours. Not till then did they awaken to the reality that the student had mastered the techniques for acing the tests, not necessarily the skills demonstrated in them.
Every day I fight against Chinese culture - and so does the Government. It is a hard battle. But what I do and say, is done and said in full appreciation of what confronts me every day. I do not look down on the Chinese as 'peasants'. (In Fact, I find the 'peasants' much easier to talk to than the educated, and that their children are harder workers than the middle classes.) I do not treat them as people who are (too) simple, backward and from another era. I treat them as Chinese citizens who have a duty and a responsibility toward both China and their own future and prosperity. I DO WHAT I AM PAID TO DO. I refuse to be an entertainer and a momentary diversion from the arduous studies they undertake.
I have no illusions about the Chinese people, and I no longer hold to my western preconceptions of them. I know them for who they are. If westerners have one big flaw in their cultural self perception, it is that they fail to see themselves as the rest of the world sees them. They judge the rest of the world by their own standards. They think, for example, that racism and sexism can be cured by legislation, while in most countries both are enshrined in legislation. They think that their cultural beliefs are so admirable, that everyone will race to embrace them. This is just not so!
Example: Becoming the Other: China's Challenges to American Teachers TONY GIFFONE.
But the dilemma for American teachers is compounded by the fact that while they may have never thought of themselves as particularly American before teaching in China, they would have defined themselves, more or less, as multiculturalists, adhering to a philosophical and pedagogical belief in the relative value and equality of all cultures. What happens to one's multicultural beliefs when one comes into contact with aspects of another culture that one does not like? How does one adjust the image of oneself as a person who celebrates cultural difference when one finds one's reactions increasingly ethnocentric? While all Americans in China are bound to feel an element of culture shock, the culture shock is greater, I think, for American teachers because these questions are bound to apply to teachers in China more than, say, to business people. American business people go to China armed with the inherent belief in the superiority of American capitalism and find in China a reconfirmation of that belief. But American teachers go to China armed with the inherent belief in the equality of all cultures and find their commitment to this principle challenged daily.
Ironically, the Americans least challenged by China are right-wing Republicans; the Communist campaign against bourgeois liberalism is not that different from the American right-wing campaign against secular humanism. American liberals--and how many English teachers do you know who don't consider themselves on the liberal half of the political divide?--find that the things that the Chinese most embrace about America (unbridled laissez-faire economics, unchecked technological growth) are the very things that most American teachers dislike about America.
We are so sure of our own superior achievements, that we fail to understand, that what we consider to be admirable, is often considered by others to be weakness, arrogance, condescension, immorality, perversity or stupidity. In a recent interview with a middle eastern terrorist, it was reported that he said something to the effect that all that the west has is money and technology, but that it is missing the one thing needed for survival, a willingness to die for what they believe in.
People in China see their world as they have always seen their world, and despite their love of modern technology, have no desire to become like Americans. How can they think like this? The answer is simple. Foreigners are just foreigners. 'We are Chinese! Being Chinese is better than being American' A foreigner may become a Chinese citizen, but he will always be a foreigner.
Whether we talk about China, Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other country, culture or religious custom, we need to understand that our perceptions of what is 'valuable and desirable', is tainted by our national 'prejudices', and if we 'altruistically' force our ways of thinking and lifestyle on others, what we so generously offer, may be thrown back in our faces. Our thinking and many of our cultural beliefs are no less a result of 'political and media propaganda', than are those of people raised in totalitarian states. Think about it!
Next week I am going to discuss cultural norms in China that will perhaps challenge your western values and offend your sensibilities. Till then, just remember what my old man told me: 'Believe nothing that you hear, and only half of what you see!?
Copyright 2011/2012 is held by the nominated authors on this article page.
About the KingsCalendar Publisher
R.P.BenDedek is the owner and Editor of KingsCalendar.com which was originally set up to publicize his research results into the Chronology of Ancient Israel. Those results were published under the title: 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran'.
Whilst there have been many attempts to solve the chronological riddle of the Bible's synchronisms of reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah and their synchronism with other Ancient Near Eastern Nations, no other research is based on a simple mathematical formula which could, if it is incorrect, be disproved easily. To date, no one has been able to dismiss the mathematical results of this research.
Free to air Academic articles set forth Apologetics for and results of his discovery of an "artificial chronological scheme" running through the Bible, Josephus, the Damascus Documents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Seder Olam Rabbah.