Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Archive for December 21st, 2009

I Know How You Felt Ignatious- Confederacy of Dunces

Posted by w_thames_the_d on December 21, 2009


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Being Obtuse in Beijing- Meeting Minutes- Business China Style

Posted by w_thames_the_d on December 21, 2009


Just had a meeting and was doing the minutes, and minutes is the right word. Chinese is an obtuse language, its called high context (see here). Basically what that means to anyone from a low context culture is that you have no idea what the hell they are talking about. The communication is elliptical and never seems to make a point, at least to us. All of that is fun to know and all, but there really is a point, and that is…in this type of culture dont try to pin them down on anything.
Back to the point, I am doing meeting minutes, you know we typically would write this:
A)
Goals-increase market share by 15% in fy2010
-Jack will handle sales, commits to develop action plan
-Marie will hire 3 new sales managers to support this activity
etc…
but here in this high context world, they also place a premium on harmony and group decision making, which to us may seem like avoidance. The meeting minutes of the above meeting would thus be written as:
B)
Meeting held, joint cooperation and understand and harmony achieved
Goals- continue on our path and grow
-Sales will do their best to support the company with its honorable and lofty goals
-Human resources will do their best to hire only the best employees

Funny thing is that by utilizing style B, every employee but me will understand specifically what they must do, or do they?

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Love Story China Style- Not Gonna happen

Posted by w_thames_the_d on December 21, 2009


This weekend I was watching some sappy love story on TV (like a re-re-rerun of something like Pretty Woman). Funny thing was that it was in English, that in and of itself is not funny but telling. Not telling in terms of the fact that my Chinese sucks and thus I cannot do this in Chinese, but telling in terms of it has to be in English, in China they don’t make them.
Dont get me wrong, they do have them, but nothing like back in the west. The secret or secrets are that here in China, they don’t sponsor this type of activity. This was actually told to me by my Chinese colleagues.
“It would never happen, here in China they don’t want to promote this type of thing, especially with younger people.” -her
wtf?- me
So I guess it is like this:
1-due to the fact that social security does not exist in China, the children must work to support their parents get older, thus anything, such as love that could derail those plans are to be nixed-apparently there is a fear that by showing/promoting this type of show, China will be filled with billions of love children…
2-the notion of marrying under your class is a definite no-no. They love the romanticism of this type of flick, but here, there is no official ‘class structure-or caste system, but it is alive and kicking here. The notion of true love is not promoted but issues of practicality are.
I wonder just how much of that type of movie can they truly understand…

Posted in Cultural oddities, Let me educate you... | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »