What Makes China Different?

China is one of the oldest continuous civilizations in the world. In fact, while older civilizations around the world crashed, burned and vanished, every time a Chinese dynasty collapsed, China picked itself up, started a new dynasty and continued on. Some have argued that the Chinese Communist Party and its republic is just another dynasty with a twist.

Bloomberg even said, “This Chinese Dynasty Needs a Name. This Communist Party of China, it is frequently asserted, is a misnamed organization. That’s because, since the party began experimenting with private enterprise in the 1970s, it has shed much of the intellectual baggage associated with Marx, Lenin and that ilk.”

The Chinese culture features an abundance of values, unchanged over millennia. In spite of the influence from outside of China and numerous invasions, the Chinese culture preserved its unique identity.

Rebecca Graf points out 13 of the major cultural differences between China and the world.

Graf says, “These differences do not make either culture better or worse than the other one. It just shows their differences which has been created through centuries of history and development. China can trace its traditions and customs for thousands of years. America is still a small babe of a nation that has had very few traditions of its own but has become such a melting pot of cultures that there is almost no specific American culture that can be said is applied across the board. This makes both cultures unique and worthy of study and respect.”

Three of the 13 differences Graf mentions in her piece on Owlcation are: Respect for Elders, Humility, and Collectivism. She says, “The Chinese looks more at the group collective than at individualism. … A person from China is more prone to look at how their acts affect the whole instead of how it affects them personally. They are more willing to give up and sacrifice for the greater good. For the Chinese, each person fits into the greater body of the nation, so individual accomplishments are downplayed.”

To hold on to those unique differences, during the Ming Dynasty, China experienced isolationism motivated by a desire to prevent foreign influences from undermining Chinese values. Study.com reported, “After being ruled by Mongol emperors for almost 100 years, Ming society was obsessed with restoring a sense of absolute Chinese culture. Chinese arts rejected foreign influences, and the emperors restricted trade with foreign nations for much of the 14th and 15th centuries.”

However, the BBC reports, “In the 19th Century, European nations used military power to pry open China’s market. To earn hard currency from China, the British and Americans even smuggled opium into China and basically drugged its people.”

The result was two Opium Wars (1839-1842 and 1856-1860). When China lost those two wars that eventually led to the Boxer Rebellion of 1899-1901, another failed attempt by the Chinese people to rid China of foreign influence.

Even the Chinese Civil War (1927-1950) was a result of foreign meddling in China’s affairs, and Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) was another attempt to rid China of foreign influences that had been forced on the country starting in 1839 with the first Opium War.  In fact, it was under Mao that China ended illegal drug use in 24 hours. The People’s Liberation Army rounded up and executed about a million drug dealers and forced more than 20-million Chinese addicts into compulsory treatment with a warning that if they were caught using again, they would suffer the same fate the dealers did.

China stayed fairly drug free until Deng Xiaoping opened China to foreign trade again even with China’s existing strict laws concerning illegal drug use. Today, sentencing for drug trafficking could include capital punishment.  For example, the seizure of 50 grams or more of heroin or crystal methamphetamine might result in the use of the death penalty by the Chinese government.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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