Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.
It is always interesting to study other cultures, and it is extremely important to do just that if you are going to have interactions with them. You don’t want to insult someone or embarrass yourself and your own culture. China is one of those interesting cultures mainly because what we usually know about the country is through movies or the local Chinese restaurant. What I’ve learned over the years is that that knowledge is usually useless. A sincere study of a culture is the only way to truly appreciate the differences.
So, being an American what do I see as the 13 biggest cultural differences between the two countries? It took a long time to narrow it all down since we could get so detailed that an encyclopedia would be the end result. So, I have focused on 13 major cultural differences between China and the United States.
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 baby 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 applied across the board. This makes both cultures unique and worthy of study and respect.
13 Cultural Differences Between America and China
- Social Structure
- Business Relations
- Recognition of the Dead
- Time Sensitivity
- Lack of Person Space
- Respect for Elders
1. Social Structure
In China, the social structure is formal and hierarchical. You know where you fit in the structure, and you abide by the rules there. There is no crossing into other areas. In America, it is much looser and informal. It is not uncommon to see those of various social levels socializing and knowing each other. There are very few lines that socially are not allowed to be crossed. This can cause problems in business relationships if the visiting culture is unaware of it.
Specifically, this type of cultural practice is reinforced in China due to their political structure. China is a communist country, so the government exerts extreme control over the population, censoring media and conducting personal surveillance. With such power invested in the government, regular people are not allowed to speak or act out against the regime, as doing so results in severe punishment.
If you are planning on conducting business in China or expecting an extended stay, it might be useful to know that the direct way that most Americans approach issues is not the way to go in China. Direct conflict or confrontation over issues is highly frowned upon. It doesn’t matter that the “truth” needs to be spoken, respect and honor to each person supersede that. To prove a point and show yourself in the right, even over business issues, is considered shameful and should be avoided.
3. Self: Individualism vs Collectivism
The Chinese look more at the group collective than at individualism. America has become known for its push of individualism which has been a source of conflict with other cultures that look collectively. 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. America’s individualism has been its backbone and the reason for its success as a world power, but when visiting China, it needs to be reined in.
For the Chinese, each person fits into the greater body of the nation, so individual accomplishments are downplayed. This is in stark contrast to the American ideal of individualism, where the self is the most important thing, and individual accomplishments are praised.
The reputation of the individual is very important in China. If an action will humiliate someone or ruin a reputation, it is avoided. When shame occurs, the person sacrifices their job or whatever it is that will heal the shame. In America, reputations come and go overnight and in the end usually does not matter, the end result is more of the focus. A person is more likely to overlook a reputation to get the job done.
China has begun to implement a "social credit system" wherein each individual is assigned a social credit score based on their actions. Negative actions that damage one's reputation such as smoking in a non-smoking area, buying too many video games, and getting speeding tickets, will negatively impact a person's social credit.
5. Business Relations
When doing business in China, be prepared for much socializing. Business becomes secondary as the parties get to know each other better. If it delays a contract, that is perfectly acceptable as long as the correct social time is allotted for. In America, business associates are usually more aloof. In an American business meeting, there might be some social gathering with the associates, but the business itself is more important, and the socializing gets sacrificed because of the cultural imperative to close deals.
Chinese society places high values on the morals of their people. Marriage is not encouraged until the late twenties. In fact, dating is discouraged early in a young adult’s life, and proprieties are expected to be held up. American culture is much more relaxed, and some could even argue that there needs to be more moral emphasis.
7. Recognition of the Dead
One of the time-honored traditions of the Chinese is the recognition of the dead. Once a year, all members of a family visit the gravesites of each ancestor and pay their respects. Honoring ancestors is very important in Chinese culture. This is in direct contrast to most Americans who rarely know where the majority of their ancestors are laid to rest. This might be due to the fact that most Americans are immigrants who either have lost the information on grave locations or the locations are in foreign countries. China’s culture is much older, and the percentage of immigration is far less.
Humility is a revered virtue in Chinese culture. The success of one’s business or personal life is downplayed while in America the successes are lauded. Most Americans in the fast business world consider humility a sign of weakness. This can be an issue that hurts inter-cultural relations. Be very sensitive to comments and actions in the presence of another culture.
9. Time Sensitivity
Crossing cultures for business can be frustrating when it interferes with getting the job done. Most Americans are very time sensitive when it comes to meetings and deadlines. If the meeting was to commence at 2:00, then all parties are to be present at that time. The Chinese do not view time as an absolute but more as a suggestion. Concern is not expressed for a meeting starting late or ending at a different time. The same can be applied to deadlines. If a report is due on Friday, an American would be waiting for that report to be received before the end of the business day. The Chinese would not worry if it showed up several days later.
Being sensitive to another person’s needs is very important in Chinese culture. It is expected that you will respect the other person and treat them well. Their needs are met at each encounter. Respect ties into reputation as those individuals who do not respect others will be shunned in Chinese society. This notion of respect is a characteristic that unfortunately has fallen on the wayside in most American circles. Americans are more concerned with their own image, and they tend to not think of respecting others.
In China, the vast amount of the population are ethnically Han Chinese, and they can trace their lineage back to ancient China. Due to a more homogenous ethnic makeup, there is more of a collectivist society in the country at large. Thus, China is less focused on respecting and accepting cultural diversity.
In the United States, there has always been a mix of different ethnicities and culture, forming a unique mix that helps to embody American individualism. America has long been known as a melting pot for different cultures as it is one of the most diverse countries on the planet. This is something embraced by most Americans, but it is not something the Chinese are accustomed to.
12. Lack of Personal Space
With China being so densely populated, most Chinese are used to cramped living spaces and crammed transportation. The concept of personal space is not the same as in the U.S. as the Chinese do not find it offensive to be physically close to someone.
Chinese cities, in particular, are some of the most densely populated places on the planet. China has six cities that contain over 10 million inhabitants, meaning that the Chinese are used to being in massive crowds at all times.
In the U.S. people tend to take their personal space seriously, and they do not enjoy being too physically close to another person.
13. Respect for Elders
Going back to the ancient days of Confucius, the Chinese have practiced reverence and respect for both ancestors and elders. In Chinese culture, the older someone is the wiser and more respected they are. Their accumulated wisdom is a great source of inspiration for the younger generations.
Chinese families are expected to take care of their elders, and it is looked down upon the family if they send their elderly to a retirement home or a similar situation. The elderly are looked to as a source of inspiration and reverence, and the traditional Chinese family unit contains the parents, children, and grandchildren in it.
This is in sharp contrast to the American model where children are supposed to be completely separate from their parents after they are legal adults.
Carron, M. (2017, July 25). Cultural Differences Between China & America. The Verge. Retrieved on March 20th, 2019.
Bryant, S. (2018, October 19). 10 cultural differences between the Chinese and Americans. Country Navigator. Retrieved on March 20th, 2019.
Zanini-Graca, P. (2018, June 15). The U.S.-China Relationship: A Clash of Cultures. Journal of Diplomacy.Retrieved on March 20th, 2019.
6 cultural differences between China and the US. China Daily. Retrieved on March 20th, 2019.
© 2009 Rebecca Graf
- on January 09, 2020:
A lot of the information is inaccurate. I believe you haven't even been to China. Please do more research.
Akzhanan on November 21, 2019:
very attractive things and advice
Eric Chengyang on August 15, 2019:
Some of the points are inaccurate, and show the lacking of fundamental knowledge regarding Chinese culture and history. For example, number 11 on multiculturalism is completely wrong! In Chinese history, there were countless ethnicities and clans: while some still existed today, others were fused/assimilated/regrouped into different ethnicities. The differences and evolution of these groups are essential for understanding several major, historic political changes, conflicts, and cultural creations that make the Chinese culture and socio-cultural climate we know of today. The Metropolitan Museum’s publication, “China: Dawn of a Golden Age” is a fairly detailed book explaining the complex arts and cultural history of ethnitc groups/clans in ancient China during the Jin Dynasties and the Sixteen Kingdoms, Northern and Southern dynasties, Sui and early-mid Tang dynasties. In addition, the reason that today, (mainland) China has so many different dialects and cuisine styles, is another solid and surviving proof of the diversity and complexity of Chinese culture that were impacted by history. Not to mention there are also many Chinese diaspora around the globe that create cultural fusion between Chinese culture and the indigenous cultures of their living spaces. My point is: you cannot say you actually know or understand Chinese culture at all, if you ignore or erase such an important and essential aspect of Chinese culture. Understanding that Chinese culture is actually a hybrid of different influences passing down from a long history, is also essential for us to realize how toxic and harmful xenophobia is to cultural development.
PS. Reading this article has reinforced how important Edward Said’s “Orientalism” is, and that the book is so relevant today.
Jiahui on August 23, 2018:
I think that it is wrong to say that chinese people aren't sensitive to time. For instance, my cousin usually is done with his report on the day it is given. Not all of the chinese people are insensitive to time.
annonymous on May 23, 2018:
you spelled properties wrong in the moral section
Jacob S. on February 14, 2018:
I was very interested on the Chinese approach towards business versus the American approach. While the article describes Chinese punctuality as more of a suggestion, further research showed that the Chinese view a lack of punctuality as offensive. The considerations one must take into account are impressive, as there is a big difference between Chinese and American culture. It is, however, important to understand and recognize other cultures and their way of doing things. The article is somewhat limiting as it only describes the differences between American and Chinese business culture, and does not go into depth as to the general differences in the every day life of an American versus the daily life of a Chinese person. There was also a considerable amount of bias present. The article was written from the perspective of an American, and it did not include Chinese perspectives on the way Americans do business.
Federico Blixen on November 17, 2017:
I am teacher of Geography in the Secondary School in Montevideo, Uruguay, and am preparing a presentation entitled "Dynamics of a Geopolitical World: USA and China, two very different empires". Your writings are very useful to me, Rebecca. Thank you!
Lou on October 08, 2017:
Jake K on January 18, 2017:
I am quite suprised with some of the facts about Chinese culture and believe Americans need to apply some of these into our culture. I am impressed withhow much the Chinese care about morals and I think Americans should begin honering the dead, showing more respect, and showing humility to others. It's very important to help others to better the whole of society. However, there are some areas listed that I do not agree with. Although it's important to help others, I don't think we should always look at the greater good but should always put ourselves before everyone else. A lot of people in society do not work as hard as others and do not deserve the same amount of rewards as everyone else. Another thing I do not agree with is the hierarchical system that the Chinese have in society. I don't think we should just know what social class we are in and we jave to stay there and only socialize with those in the same class. I'd rather have the American way in which we communicate with everyonewe want to and can make it to the top if we really try in life.
Geli on December 04, 2016:
I disagree with this authors' view of Chinese vs U.S. business practices and approaches. I have been working for and with Chinese business owners since 2010. It is a fact that they do not approach business as conducted in the U.S. First, Chinese business leads or representatives are in place, for the most part, as reps for the actual business owners who may be out of the country. So the group of investors may not actually be present or known. The reps will attempt to negotiate to the point of skirting around regulations or workarounds that may not necessarily be in alignment with sound business practices. It happened right in front of me where the Chinse rep offered a lump sum of money just to try and have a fire inspector pass something....the inspector looked at her incredulously and said, "Ma'am do you know what you are doing? I don't accept money and this is not going to happen any faster." She was stunned and kept persisting she could pay whatever it cost. I had to intervene and explain to her that she could not offer him money, etc. Secondly, there is little to no cognizant respect for, or abiding by, rules, regulations when it comes to business operations such as Human Resource standards, Accounting standards, etc. Trust me I know first hand. It is almost as the perception is one of aloofness on many Chinese business owners where they just want things done but they don't care to consider repercussions, the thought is they can just pay their way out of it or they won't get caught. Trust me, things don't work that way and I witness the clash on a daily basis to the point where I am desperately education my self further so I can leave untainted, I hope.
S Leretseh on August 31, 2012:
Every point you have enumerated here as a "difference" was actually every bit part of white Christian male society in America prior to July 2, 1964.
Oh, and you actually forgot one: there are no civil rights laws in China, so there is no artificial empowerment of the female (there are no statistically measurable racial groups in China --other than Chinese). Lacking these invasive kinds of laws has allowed China a great economic advantage over the West.
China also does not allow film producers to:
--to attempt to use their films to change the status quo by planting visual images and contrived dialogue (e.g. To Kill A Mocking Bird)
--to stir up ethnic groups
--to attack political figures
--to attempt to create social change
monkeys on May 17, 2012:
very ture but the chinese are not happy in my class they dont like it
joshualpearson on May 15, 2012:
uh, yeah....i'm going to have to go with the stance that chinese people 'save face' because they know that they are wrong and are too weak to admit it. who cares if this is a cultural norm, as it turns out, a large majorty of the chinese are just a pack of liars. i've lived in china for over two years and chinese people will cheat foreigners left and right because of their stereotype that all westerns have a lot of money, which is definitely true in some cases, but obviously not universal. but i like chinese food.
umbria on April 23, 2012:
In China, if one is in the wrong, for example causes an accident, it is common to make a huge display of anger and blame others including victims. Admitting you are in the wrong is not an option as it would cause you to lose face. The same habit manifests itself in a million ways. Chinese are taught from primary school through graduate school about cultural differences between China and America: Chinese love their families, Chinese have honor, Chinese are modest, Chinese are caring, Chinese are generous, etc. This training is just another form of maintaining face in a society in which all such characteristics are almost totally absent. Chinese intellectuals (the few and the noble) also complain about China's moral and cultural crisis. Unfortunately, all the stereotypes taught about Chinese culture in the West and in China are really just utopian speculation about what it might have been like before the cultural slate was wiped almost clean by Mao's social experiments. The present reality is a sort of every-man-for-himself society that only doesn't collapse because homogeneity of thought is enforced and life quality is steadily and rapidly improving. But you readers probably don't want to know the truth, just go ahead and keep believing in some traditional China where honor and integrity rules... oh yeah, and everybody knows Kung Fu!
wtf on April 23, 2012:
Ummm... this was not written by anyone who has ever been to China. It is simply a list of the stereotypes that are taught in the west about "Asian culture". Many of these things will hold true if you go to Japan, but are the exact opposite in mainland China. Numbers 1 and 2 are fairly accurate, number 3 has absolutely nothing to do with the reality in China, numbers 4 and 5 reasonably accurate, number 6 is true with regarding marriage, but no one who has spent time in China would say that Chinese society places a high value on morals, number 7 somewhat true except most people don't make the yearly visits, number 8 again has nothing to do with the reality in China, number 9 not too far off, number 10 again, nothing to do with China.
jester on April 05, 2012:
Having lived in China, and been a supervisor of chinese managers, I can tell you that the 'loss of face' is not a positive trait. It is quite hard to deal with as an american. The chinese would rather lie to you than admit they made a mistake in most instances. It is socially acceptable to lie if you screw up. And others don't want to bring shame to others so you basically have companies where no one really knows what is going on!
zhenkeai on March 28, 2012:
Did you compile these points just by searching the Internet? It is very obvious that you never lived in China. The truth is very different than what you describe in many respects.
I completed agree with the comments of Marion above.
A on March 25, 2012:
helped so much with my work!
Mary on March 22, 2012:
My experience with people from China/Taiwan/Hong Kong, etc. is quite different. I don't see the people as you described. I live in So Calif, where there are many tens of thousands of Chinese people, so I have a lot of interaction with many Chinese (recent immigrants, those who have been here for a long time, those who are descendants of immigrants, Chinese from Vietnam, etc). My interactions have been in school, business, and social settings. I myself am Asian Amer, tho not Chinese. Without being too critical, I'd say that this article should not be taken too literally.
pradnya zope on March 04, 2012:
Thanks for shairing this articals
Georges Prevost on March 03, 2012:
If truth is not essential,how do the courts function? I am trying to work my way through, of what appears to be contradictions.On one hand they (chinese) hold honor as an ultimate ideal but negate truth and confrontations.Polite confrontation can be fruitful.I am going to China in a few weeks and would like to behave as a proper guest.Can anyone shed some light in how they ( Chinese )think .Thanks,in advance
Dave on February 08, 2012:
Very interesting exchange of opinions. And very obviously, some people have travelled the world and have had attained certain level of education and wisdom, while others regrettably did not have that privilege and sadly, are not aware of this.
princesswithapen on December 27, 2011:
Very interesting! Having moved countries, I can relate my interaction, dealings and transactions with different cultures to some of the points that you've mentioned. Nicely done.
Joe on December 17, 2011:
There are different cultures in different countries countries. It's important to adapt to different cultures when visiting different countries.
chelsea on December 14, 2011:
y dont u people writin this stuff write bout somethin real and funner bcuz wat u peoplies r6 so borin
Asian on December 11, 2011:
This is indeed a very good way of articulating cultural difference.
It will also give you a lot of insight on the cultural divide not only in business but even in politics.
taron on December 04, 2011:
This line gives the whole Freudian subtext away.....
The American culture is much more relaxed and some could even argue that there needs to be more moral emphasize.
juju on November 28, 2011:
hello on November 28, 2011:
M on November 17, 2011:
I've lived in China for 10 years doing business and the article is a biased, idealised version of what Chinese culture is. Dig beneath the surface and the truth is vastly different - the bit about morals made me laugh especially.
Unfortunately, after a very good start in Taiwan, my respect for the culture has gradually declined in the mainland, especially in business terms where incompetence, dishonesty and unreliability prevail.
However, as individuals people are generally friendly, social and very nice people, though it's rare to find someone with interesting or unpredictable views.
Negative I know, but a little closer to the truth in my experience and, as I'm not American, I'm not saying American culture is better either.
Deryl on November 16, 2011:
Has this been updated, my teacher needs to know?
liu on November 16, 2011:
what day was this updated?
Evans Kinga on November 16, 2011:
China on the verge of becoming a market leader in all sectors. That is a good article.
CChurches on November 10, 2011:
I needed to right an informal essay and this article helped me immensly!!!!!!!!
sally vanburan on November 07, 2011:
its a little boring. sorry!peace out !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hmm. on November 04, 2011:
Respect, Honor, Humility you can find in all people who are raised correctly by their parents, but it isn't necessarily how all Chinese people are. You can find the same qualities in traditional households in the U.S, just like you find them in traditional households in China. This article is creating an air of cultural superiority, and not just announcing the differencs b/t these two cultures.
kipronor from Nairobi on October 21, 2011:
Informative hub, keep telling us more...its good to know how other people live.
weagesdf on October 19, 2011:
cool.. except morals, americans have much much better morals. like no lying
James on September 26, 2011:
Very interesting take between china and the us
pat16335 on August 30, 2011:
Thank you everyone for the information it is very useful when dealing with the Chinese, or if I ever decide to go to China.
T J R on August 22, 2011:
I live in China and some of the ideas brought up are a little bias on the Chinese side. Trust me! Keeping face is a big sign of an insecure characteristic...
Louboutin Shoes on July 27, 2011:
Are you chinese or American?
Ally1 on July 06, 2011:
(1) In China, virtually all electronics have power consumption number clearly labeled on the device. For example, a calculator, 0.00005mW; a microwave, 200W; a LCD monitor, 25W. In U.S., it is extremely difficult to find any electronics or appliance that shows the power consumption number.
(2) In China, you can always set your watch accurate to the seconds. The radios announce "di, di, ... du, the last tone was at xx o'clock sharp". The TV stations embed digital time stamp on the screen. In U.S., before the atomic clocks become prevalent a few years ago, there's no way to know the exact time. It was the most intriguing thing for me to understand in this technological advanced country.
(3) In China, postal office open 7 days a week. So are most banks. In U.S., only 5 business days.
(4) In China, when you go to studio and take a portrait (such as for Passport photo), the negative is returned to you, because you (and your family) are on it, and simply because this fact, you are the owner of the photo. In U.S, because the photographer takes the picture, and just because that, he/she is the owner of any photo that you pay for and you are on it.
(5) In China, car driving with headlight on during the day time is viewed as very impolite to others (both to other drivers and to pedestrians), but in U.S., it is viewed as doing a favor to others so other people can recognize car.
(7) In China, no one plays the (e.g. credit card) games such as "if you carry balance, you will earn 1% rebate", no one - poor countryside men or highly educated. In U.S. there's even such thing existing is saying a lot of many people's financial knowledge.
(8) In China, when a wife cheats before or during marriage and you only find out many years later the child is actually not yours, she is still 100% at guilty and she is deserved for divorce and she must pay for all the money your lost with interests, and penalty for these years she has hided the fact. You are the victim. In U.S, the fact that the child (although not yours) has been with you for, say, 10 years, shows your "bond" with the child, and you can't divorce the women and even you do, you must continue to pay for the child support and she owe you nothing.
(9) In U.S., people think Chinese do not have freedom, so they must be in fear every day when talking about anything and their life is constant threat from so-called politician and state police. Well, in China, people think New York is very dangerous place and killing and murders happening in every street on every day.
China Stories on May 14, 2011:
I just tweeted this story! Awesome and really useful! http://twitter.com/#!/ChinaStories/status/69427137601486848
Cheska on May 12, 2011:
Thanks! It helps a lot on my homework :"> Great presentation :)
travaler on May 11, 2011:
just a quick question when was this article created?
Elena@LessIsHealthy on May 09, 2011:
muncake on April 27, 2011:
Hold it!!! Everyone should be careful of the Chinese people are this and Chinese people believe in that, type of understanding. China has a history that is twenty times as long as that of the U.S. It has done some great things for mankind and has been equally as brutal and destructive. For all you business minded sorts who have just discovered China, you should understand that it has had the largest economy for 16 of the last 20 centuries. It didn't just influence Japan and Korea and the rest of Asia in some cases it was the model. As a black man it is easy for me to recognize the prejudging and over simplification of a people because that type of thinking is easier than actually understanding the history and complexity of people as a group and as individuals. So if you want some insight start with, I don't know , say The First Emperor and go from there.
And Drewson from United States on April 08, 2011:
Very thought-provoking points here. Especially important since China owns most of the US debt and could come to collect some day. ;)
vanchee on March 28, 2011:
great hub and interesting comments. i learned a lot from this . just wanna say,nothing is absolute.what we we've commented here only represent personal oppion.
i'm a Chinese and i do appriciate some of the American culture, their open , free, democracy. i dislike some stale oppressive notions in China.i think that's restrition to hunman thought.
Ceddars on March 09, 2011:
Interesting post, although it leans towards "Americans needs to adapt to the way the Chinese do", with little reciprocity implied
malia on February 13, 2011:
o my gosh boring hahahahahaha
heheh on February 10, 2011:
AHHHH I need to finish this!
marion on January 23, 2011:
I think you missed my point.. and I wouldn't call ladies who habitually "spit around you, push you on a public transport" adorable! I know it's entirely acceptable among both sexes in China; I just couldn't help but be disgusted by these everyday habits... that's just my opinion :)
Hasan on January 22, 2011:
Thanks for sharing this useful information. helped a lot in preparing my notes :) Appreciated!
Gina on January 03, 2011:
marion 3 days ago
@ Benard Odoh.
" astounding cruelty to animals, many of whom are skinned alive every day"
YES, YES AND YES! But I also saw a lot of foreigners eating that delicious food with their adorable Chinese ladies :)
Gina on January 03, 2011:
Looks like I can post only nice comment here after all happy married to Chinese Americans and Chinese....
I spent 6 years in China, I was interested when I just came to do my degree, after 4 years I felt I want to throw up after just smell of Chinese food at the street. I've got a scholarship to do my Master degree here. So I decided to stay two more years. I got my papers and BYE-BYE! All my friends who stayed in China felt a bit sad leaving, they had nice time, China has a lot to discover, but no one wants to go back - nothing to do! Just like some of my Chinese friends. If China is so wonderful stay in your country! People will spit around you, push you on a public transport,will trouble outside and you have to bargain for every thing you are buying.
My friends who have wonderful Chinese ladies next to them say it is like having a puppy. Always jumping around, sticky, playful, "Are you hungry?", "Are you happy?"... and the children always look Asian.
Everyone has his own fun.Best of luck.
marion on December 31, 2010:
@ Benard Odoh.
I don't believe the Chinese system cares much for others. "Profit over people" seems to be the main Chinese motto. Poorer people especially are treated with utter disdain & disrespect - more so than every other country I have been in. The lower class are barely treated better than animals (and remember, China is renouned for its astounding cruelty to animals, many of whom are skinned alive every day).
If one looks under the surface, it is undeniably evident that in China, outer appearance is often the polar opposite of reality. People are SEEN to have high morals and be humble and respectful to people higher up the ladder.. I would be seen to have these qualities too if I lived in this very secretive, authoritarian country where I could disappear at any moment if I complain too much or I don't follow the many hypocritical rules!
Sarah on December 17, 2010:
Thanks for this information. I wished I had accessed this a few months ago, when I took a couple of classes with my native Chinese professor. It would've helped me understand some nonverbal cues. He was one of the best professors I've ever had, and really cared about his students and their work. I wish more American-born profs cared about their students like he did.
Benard Odoh. Awka, Nigeria on December 12, 2010:
Very informing and mind blowing indeed! The American system has largely been built upon Malthusiam Theory. This encouraged individualism, greed, inpatience, less care for others but at the same time, American system place high premium on quality and corporate aid to the weak. On the contrary, the Chinese system believes in team-work, care for others, patience, care for one another but I get disguested by the way China has mass produced and distributed volumes of inferior products around the globe. Qauntum volumes of inferior products from China have left the Nigeria environment very petiable. Though, one can accuse their Nigeria business collaborator in this ignoble act but, the fact is that the Chinese people care less about standard. Both Countries have had their bad and good times interm of economic growth but, I think we are yet to get/arrive at a more perfect system. More answers are needed for the world future. Thank you
amirashawky on November 01, 2010:
I benefited a lot from this presentation.it is really wonderful.my research on politeness and the cross culture differences between the americans and the chinese.it is quite helpful.
Erin on October 20, 2010:
This article was very interesting and helpful for my college assignment in my business coures, regarding social and cultural differences between America and China.
BYD on October 14, 2010:
Although this hub is 2 years old, it's interesting that China is just starting to play a global role openly. My company deals with Chinese companies everyday. One business concept that stands out is American companies typically like to put together a contract or agreement first then do actual business. They place high emphasis on making sure everything is perfect and specific. On the other hand Chinese companies want to do actual business first then deal with the contract or agreement later. And they place high emphasis on practical business experience and dealings with each other. Generally there are many "what if," questions left unanswered until the "what if" happens.
J on October 12, 2010:
I do noticed lately that there's a lot of chinese's that's been adopting the idea of an early marriage
态万方 on October 11, 2010:
Thanks for the effort.
I am a Chinese, had grown up here in China. After I read the article, my first reaction is: "Is it talk about US of present time?" Sorry, I have no intention to challenge you, just stating what I truly thought.
Thank you again to present them.It's like a comic mirror of me/us.Help us to observe ourselves. Thank you.
Tranquilheart from Canada on September 10, 2010:
« Respect – Being sensitive to another person’s needs is very important in Chinese culture. It is expected that you will respect the other person and treat them well. Their needs are met at each encounter. This is a characteristic that unfortunately has fallen on the wayside in most American circles »
True, particulary toward seniors. In North America seniors are invisible. Capitalism to blame? Maybe the boomers will change this.
mymachining from Shanghai,China on August 25, 2010:
Very good article!
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Ronald Blacklock on August 14, 2010:
I have been to China five times and I am married to a wonderful Chinese lady. There are many differences in culture between China and the USA and it presents an interesting life in learning and blending of the cultures.
My comments for here is one of a tribute to the leadership and respect that I see in the Chinese government and for the great job the present leadership is doing in making China a leading nation. I wish I could have an equal respect for my own government and I do respect the Constitution and laws that govern the USA, but a country can only be great if the rules are followed by everyone. Under the current administration of the USA many leaders put themselves above the law, have no respect for the Constitution and they are pulling America down rapidly.
Lee - teacher in China on July 26, 2010:
Overall the presentation was excellent. I have lived in China for over a year...in fact, married a wonderful Chinese lady and still learning the culture of the Chinese everyday people.
A few insights from my perspective on normal Chinese people;
1. Chinese socialize with their children each day and they are up early to do morning exercise. The old and young wake up at an early hour and exercise. No so with the US.
2. Healthy food...rich in minerals and protein versus fast food junkies of the US.
3. Medical care...is adequate and the hospitals are not so "speck and span". A doctor here in China is a skilled technician versus a Dr. in the US an overpaid "God"
4. Chinese medicine of herb and remedies work very well for most illnesses and cost ZERO compared to drug companies in the US.
5. Self-reflection and concern of family here in China and the spirit is quiet...versus the US with all the frizzy, time constraints. Families broken, love starved children and too much freedom for young teens.
For me...I am 66 years old...have a Son who gives a crap about me. I was a Viet-nam vet, naval officer, and reached high up in the ranks of corporate America...and I plan to stay here in China.
ocoonocoon on July 21, 2010:
Hi nice hub! I have not interacted with native Chinese much so I trust your judgement! But I noticed many of the things you say about Chinese are similar to the Japanese. Like saving face for instance. I had no idea they were not into conflict, much as the Japanese are. I have written a hub about Japanese etiquette so have a read if you like!
Neferkaptah on June 11, 2010:
The Theosophy of Twt-Mos Djoser
Great comparison, but remember, that all the nations of the world, its people, the celestial words and the very heavens "universes" are subjected to the laws of transition and that every country should find, which social ideologies are better for its own people and state and country, even if is a hybrid ideal.
chinaboy1212 on May 17, 2010:
the problem is that china has too too too much people ,china is glowing up but still have too much problem..www.touringuangzhou.com
Anonemuss from Belmont, Massachusetts on May 16, 2010:
Excellent hub with comparisons. Very interesting, thanks.
Loveofnigjht Anderson from Baltimore, Maryland on April 27, 2010:
a good share.....thx
buckeroo48 on April 26, 2010:
I enjoyed your comparisions which must have taken alot of time. I have lived and do live and work in China. I do agree we can always learn from each other. I have found though in business if you "save face" as most Chinese are willing to do even if they are wrong can really lead to mistrust and poor business at the expense of both parties.
But, all in all I think the world is getting smaller and we all need to learn from one another and teach one another. Maybe some of those good values from each nation can "rub-off" on each other and we can have a more balanced relationship with greater understanding.
I do disagree with one thing. When you are a foreigner the Chinese expect it "now" or "as soon as possible" as I see other Chinese collegues taking their sweet time. This is not fair to those foreigners who want to do well but are pressured more. I have now been to China six times and was married to a Chinese wife.
I do however love the Chinese people. Good Article.
Barry Rutherford from Queensland Australia on April 15, 2010:
great reading thanks !
ArthurWinford from NH on March 22, 2010:
This is very good topic and very true. They are tough people to do business with but they are always friendly and social. I currently reside in Chongqing and it is exactly the same way here.
marygarrison on October 15, 2009:
Interesting topic! Thank you,I thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughtful comparisons between Chinese and American cultures.
dusanotes from Windermere, FL on October 14, 2009:
Very Educational. The Chinese are a great people, and of course I'm not talking politics here. The people themselves have learned some things we impetuous Americans should learn and one thing is patience. Asian people in general seem to be more patient and long suffering than we are in America. You did a fine job here. New fan, Don White
Eaglekiwi from -Oceania on October 14, 2009:
Hi there , your hub caught my attention as this will be helpful for my high school son ,who asked the very same question. I find other cultures interesting too, and I appreciate your objective study. Thankyou.
sukhera143 from Home on October 14, 2009:
Beata Stasak from Western Australia on October 14, 2009:
Thank you for great insight into Chinese as well as American culture. I am not American or Chinese but I have friends on both sides. In our recent time of the global recession the both sides accuse each other of their 'past and present faults'. China is proud to be the next financial 'hub' in the world and managed to bring 'the state capitalism' and Chinese semi-command economic system into successful stage. Chinese investments grow all aroung the world in the most expansive way ever. China rightfully blames U.S. for it's role in the global recession. U.S. defends itself that behind American global expansion was an idea of a world based on free enterprise, mutual prosperities and open societies, something about China can only dream about. In spite of the recent Chinese financial success there is the Communist oppressive regime in power, China is the bigest pollutant in the world and Chinese products are not always the safest or the healthiest in the world. I listened to my friends from boths sides and I think they should learn from each other and stop accusing each other. Both sides have much to learn. What do you think?
whitney_185 on October 13, 2009:
Always nice to see hubs that have thought put into them! Very interesting and it made me think about how I'm living and how I could change for the better!
Camping Toilets from Somwhere Out There on October 13, 2009:
Jjustice on October 12, 2009:
American culture used to be much more concerned with moral behavior, respect, and reputation. Unfortunatley we have fallen far from what we once were. We have many good characteristics still, but we could take some tips from a lot of other cultures. Example, cutting stuff off of thieves and rapist! I like that Arab cultural tradition instead of spending tons of money housing and feeding the bottom feeders of society.
Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on September 30, 2009:
Interesting comparisons. Actualy many, if not most of the closely held Chinese ideals used to be considered much more important in American culture than they are today. Who moved? Hopefully we can both find more commonality. I think the ordinary people could... governments, maybe not.
Vizey on September 08, 2009:
I think the major difference is not region but of mentality. Americans and Chinese are rivals and not likely to be friend in near future.
James A Watkins from Chicago on September 05, 2009:
Thanks for the presentation. Both cultures make for interesting study. I have done substantial business with Chinese men and the are tough negotiators but always friendly and social. Nice job.