A Communication Blog.

of china & sophisication

Posted on: September 19, 2010

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China, being segregated from the rest of the world for hundreds of years, has developed its own culture and language. Therefore, in order to adapt to China’s way of life, foreigners have to follow what is termed “cognitive schemata”. In the article, one aspect of what Mrs Fallows found different between America, her native country, and China was that the latter had table manners unlike from what she was used to. In order to conform, she had to follow a “script”, for example she adopted a Chinese habit of pouring tea for others before doing so for herself. While foreigners may see that as uncalled for (after all whoever wants more tea can get it himself or request for someone to pour it for him), the Chinese view this particular custom as a common and necessary courtesy. Not doing so would probably change their perception of their fellow diner, which brings me to my next point.

The way we view others, or perceive them, can be easily influenced by person prototypes. Person prototypes are idealized representations of a certain kind of person. The prototypical image of a Chinese citizen might be of one who “pushes and shoves” in public domain but at meal times, under the scrutiny of friends and family members, display what appears to be excessive politeness. The interviewee did not mention in depth about any individual but gave a largely genera l view of what the people of China seem to be. It is thus easy to assume that the average Chinese is openly uncouth yet under certain pressure, can exhibit laudable manners. While this may or may not be true, we cannot ignore the fact that the Chinese have an increasing number of philanthropists willing to dole out billions of dollars to help those less fortunate than they are, and that the government has been pushing campaigns on its citizens to be more mindful of decorum, which goes to prove that there are signs of a more enlightened society and increased efforts in improving social conduct.

Although China’s citizens do not have excellent etiquette all the time, it is important to note that the Chinese have been a rather new society in the sense that they have just joined the world. Societal norms that apply to what is known as the developed world should not be assumed upon them. It is important for us to not to depend on our “personal constructs” and instead develop what is known to be “cognitive complexity”, the ability to combine seemingly contradictory characteristics in creative ways, knowing that people are not absolutely good or bad, which is necessary for good communication. With time and a higher level of education, China is on the path to develop sophisticated members of society comparable to that of first world countries.


6 Responses to "of china & sophisication"

Not all PRCs are rude and aggressive.However, mostly the ones we meet are somehow similar and that they are actually quite rude. i guess it depends on which part of china they come from and also their education level as well. China is improving to a certain extent and if they wanna be of a upper class in the world..being treated like one.. theres still a long way to go.

Hi Jolyn!

I guess the way of life there is different and like what you said they are pretty much accustomed to their own way of living. I would assume that it’s merely their way of survival. Bringing into consideration the stiff competition in a population of approx 1.4 billion, it is rather inevitable that they are “pushing and shoving” to fight their way to the top. It seems more like a self defense mechanism to me. In the race to outwit one another in the social ladder, they might tend to neglect on what they might deem as lesser important aspects such as social etiquette. But like you mentioned, its only a matter of time.

Hmm, I did encounter a lot of PRCs shoving and pushing their way true and I guess you’re right, it might be due to their own style of living back in their country. And, I guess it is possible with time for them to reach the acceptable social etiquette.

However, when they’ve reached it, will the world be able to accept them? Would they be able to treat them like how they’ve treat the first world countries? I think that even after the change in etiquette, first impressions are hard to diminish. It would take a longer time for the world to lose the perception that Chinese (and I meant those in China, of course, many Singaporean chinese aren’t very nice either) are rude.

I guess there is always a cultural differences. Like we Singaporean Chinese and China Chinese, are we different or similar in any or many aspects? It is more how one grows up in an environment they are accustomed to and what they are taught. It is common for PRC to talk very loudly while as Singaporean Chinese are more polite in that manner ( except for some ). So therefore we must learn other culture mannerism and traits if we ever visit the place or behold the great cultural shock you will experience.

culture takes time to change and this is quite evident in china. They really do take time, and unless they had the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where their citizens were very proud of their country being able to bid for this big project that brings pride to their country, they would not take such a great effort to increase everybody’s social graces.


I think that such differences ultimately boil down to cultural differences. The chinese culture, being heavily influenced by confucianism, naturally emphasizes respect, especially that for one’s elders. The western culture, however, emphasizes individuality, and a freedom of speech and will. Such practices go back a long time in history, and is part of the country’s culture, making it difficult for them to change. Adaptation, though, could be possible.

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