Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Archive for January 29th, 2010

A very good post about Ethics and Communication

Posted by w_thames_the_d on January 29, 2010

Great post here, has good information about China and how they communicate:


China is a culture which in spite of its 5000 plus year long written history has not yet completed the transition to what we normally call a written culture. It has what linguists call a "high oral residue".

At this point I recommend the following references:

Walter J. Ong: _Orality and Literacy_, Routledge, 1982, 2006 reprint

There is an excellent presentation on how a transition from an oral to a written culture impacts human thought patterns in the following book, using ancient Greece as an example:

Eric A. Havelock: _The Muse Learns to Write_, Yale University Press, 1986

The following two works will further give you a glimpse into the details of how European thought (and thus also American culture) developed as printing and indexing further influenced us, remember this can de seen as an inventory of all that did NOT happen in China:

Marshall McLuhan: _The Gutenberg Galaxy_, University of Toronto Press, 1962, 2002 reprint

Walter J. Ong: _Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue_, The University of Chicago Press, 1958, 2004 reprint

The Chinese case is dealt with in length here:

David Ze (Simon Fraser University): _Walter Ong’s Paradigm and Chinese Literacy_, Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol 20, No 4 (1995):

The short version of the story is that the Chinese do not use language as a major means of communication. Language here in a very broad sense, embracing oral language and written language, signs, written warnings, traffic lights, instruction manuals, or other people sitting down in front of you and trying to tell you or warn you about something.

Typically mainstream culture Chinese have not what you and I would call a proclivity for abstract thought. While highly educated Chinese do, and while Chinese that have spent some time abroad do, this is not something which is fostered from within Chinese culture.

Typically mainstream culture Chinese will not infer a principle from having heard or read that something happened to someone else. Typically mainstream culture Chinese will be less likely to learn from the experience of others and instead be limited to learn from their own experience.

How do the Chinese typically communicate?

By action. They have to see that something is happening, either positive or negative. Where I live, if I want the janitor to repair a door, I cannot merely go the his office and tell him to repair a door. I have to tell him many times, perhaps more than ten. It will take months. I have to escalate visible anger. I have bang my fist in his desk, I have to threaten his superior with lawyers. I have to withhold fees. Then the door will eventually be repaired.

For the same reason you cannot necessarily take for granted the contents of what a mainstream culture Chinese tells you, as language is not used for communication. If you for instance wish to enquire about if a Chinese is religious or not, merely asking does not provide an answer. You have to observe if he goes to mosque or church. If you want to hire someone that never smokes, you can not merely ask the candidate, as he will answer what he believes you would like to hear. You have to observe if he normally smokes.

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Post- pretty Alarming Post about Cheating

Posted by w_thames_the_d on January 29, 2010

From the Huffington Post, regarding cheating in general- here

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Brains of China- Tiananmen area

Posted by w_thames_the_d on January 29, 2010

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China Fact- Mandate from Heaven- China to Rule

Posted by w_thames_the_d on January 29, 2010

Interesting piece from this website.

When the Chou tribe overthrew the last Shang king, they had to convince the people, especially the nobles, that they had the right to rule. The Chou told people that the gods in heaven had told them that they were to rule. This was called "The Mandate of Heaven", heaven’s orders. The Chou added that the gods had warned them that they would only rule as long as they were good rulers. If they became selfish, and thought of themselves first, before the people, that heaven would appoint another ruling family.

No one knows if the nobles in ancient China believed this fairy tale, but they most probably thought that the Mandate of Heaven sounded like a good idea. The nobles were tired of war between the Shang and the Chou. Most of the nobles would have the same life under Shang or Chou rule, and they knew it. As for the peasants, it did not matter to them which family ruled.

The Mandate of Heaven is based on four principles:

  1. The right to rule is granted by Heaven.
  2. There is only one Heaven therefore there can be only one ruler.
  3. The right to rule is based on the virtue of the ruler.
  4. The right to rule is not limited to one dynasty.

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High Tech Cheating in China – Did He earn that Spot in the Uni?

Posted by w_thames_the_d on January 29, 2010

Article here, that shows how far Chinese students will go to enter universities. The competition is fierce.


"Chinese students are using innovative methods to get through highly stressful university entrance exams. The candidate gets a friend to check the textbook outside, asks the questions into a microphone in his sleeve, and receives the answers in a wireless earphone.

It’s a hi-tech, but fairly straightforward, way of cribbing the answers, but some cheats have run into a few technical hitches along the way. However, many are prepared to take the risk given the competition – there are 9.5 million aspiring students battling it out for 2.6 million places.

In one exam hall in the city, examiners found more than 100 devices to help the students cheat, including more traditional cheating tools such as laptops and mobile phones, as well as tiny transmitting devices hidden in vests, wallets and the waistbands of trousers.

Some universities grey_loader.gif
have installed cameras and mobile phone-blocking technology at exam halls to stop people using technology to crib.

Posted in Cultural oddities, Let me educate you..., Ranting in general, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

People, Subway in Beijing

Posted by w_thames_the_d on January 29, 2010

Tons of them, each day, every day. For more videos see theamericaninchina on youtube. Videos here

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China Fact- No Cars Under Mao

Posted by w_thames_the_d on January 29, 2010

Chairman Mao, who is believed to have built China and is still idolized by many people in China-especially rural areas, outlawed private car ownership in China. He did, however build Car companies for China, they were for the military.

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Beijing City Lights by My old Place

Posted by w_thames_the_d on January 29, 2010

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Massage in Shanghai

Posted by w_thames_the_d on January 29, 2010

Real massage in Shanghai at a Chongqing place, be careful though- some are massage parlors wink wink nudge nudge.

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Capital Capital where is the Capital- Moving of China’s Capital

Posted by w_thames_the_d on January 29, 2010

At the end of the Qing dynasty in 1911 there was a vacuum of control in China.  Chiang Kai Shek eventually took over the KMT. During his reign, the capital was in Nanjing, but the Japanese invaded (world war ii era), so he moved the capital for a time to Wuhan and then to Chongqing. Chairman Mao moved it back to Beijing.

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