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Characteristics of the Chinese Culture

3. Culture Has Many Shapes: Ancient, Medieval, Modern, etc.

When I fist came to Boston, I walked around Chinatown and was shocked by how many old Chinese traditions were maintained here in a different culture. Is it because it remains untouched by many political movements in China? Is it because American culture respects other cultures? There are signs of "Li Temple Huang Family Association" on some buildings. To many people from mainland China, this is an ancient phenomenon. To have an old family clan member to handle disputes in a family is unthinkable in most parts of mainland China! I looked at the paper money in the Chinese markets and could not believe my eyes. For thousand of years Chinese people burn paper money for their diseased family members. This custom was stopped after 1949. But here I saw all different kinds of paper money on shelves! I talked to a staff in a market about it. He told me there were many goods in the Nether World. Chinese money for goods made in China. US money is for McDonalds! Do we love our parents? Do we love our children?

Many things we hear about the Chinese culture are true in a sense that they happened in the past. It is not true for same token.

Throughout 20th century we see a movement to challenge and reform Confucianism. Facing the urgent need to modernize China, generations of intellectuals criticized and disowned this whole system. While almost all ancient Chinese written literature is still Confucius, its interpretations and understanding are very different now than one hundred years ago. It indeed was reformed.

In traditional Confucianism, it is important that Means meet the moral standards in reaching a Goal. Now, concepts of business secrets and marketing strategies are tolerated. Before, "Nature's way is the highest way" was stressed for thousands of years. Now another concept of "Changing is Nature's Way" is discussed. Harmony is still important but now we realize Confucius also says harmony is a balance. In Confucianism, there are three elements for success: People's relationship, timing and location. Now in real estate market in China, many Confucius words are put on the importance of Location!

There is a discussion about the future of Confucianism in China and in all of Asia. For thousands of years, it is a philosophy for ruling class to rule, to study, to follow through life for personal perfection and harmony for the society. Now it become a business tool and become a very practical way of living by people on the street. There are many books on how to apply Confucius principles to manage a company, to market a product, to buy stocks, etc. On one Chinese newspaper one day, I read two articles on how Confucius lived up to 96 years old and how he did meditation. Just imagine how Confucius scolded business people! I laugh at how upset many Confucius scholars might feel about this although I do not like this trivialization of Confucianism myself!


Phrases for Meeting People

Quick Lesson Tips: Chinese has four basic tones. Initally, do not worrry about them. Learn your vocabulary first. Once you learn the words, go back and practice with the tones.

Common Phrases for Meeting People

hello:  nínhăo  (neen-how)

good bye:  zàijiàn  (zi-jee-ahn)

good morning:  nín zăo  (neen)(zow)

good night:  wăn ān  (wahn)(an)

please:  qíng  (cheeng)

thank you:  xièxie  (ssee-eh-ssee-eh)

you’re welcome:  bú xiè  (boo)(ssee-eh)

How are you?  Nĭ hăo ma?  (nee)(how)(mah)

Well, thank you.  Hăo xièxie  (how)(ssee-eh-ssee-eh)