My initial impression of Beijing was exactly what I had expected. The food is great, but very similar to Hong Kong. Most things are much cheaper than both Hong Kong and the United States. There is a lot of history and beautiful architecture along with many more modern buildings. I had not realized prior to coming that the pollution would be so visible. I assumed that it was only apparent when it reached high levels, but it seems to be there everyday.
One event that really stood out to me was during the first day of my internship. I was in a meeting with the founding partner and a few other employees. They were discussing how to convince an Israeli company to move to China. The woman who is in charge of the negotiations kept asking if certain information should be disclosed and the partner kept replying with yes. I had always believed that Chinese business practices always involved secrets, but apparently that is false. While withholding information is a common practice, not all companies follow that deceptive tactic. It was an eye opener and gave me a completely different perspective on China’s culture.
One similarity between Beijing and the North East of the United States is the mentality of the people. Everyone is always in such a rush to get to his or her destination. They push and shove yet never say “excuse me” or apologize. Often, they seem to be concerned solely with themselves, which reminds me strongly of many major cities in the North East.
A major difference between the two nations is taboo topics. In the United States people speak their minds freely about any topic. While some topics avoided by certain groups, it is never universal. In China, there are many topics that people will not discuss. The three T’s are a common example. Chinese people will avoid conversations about Tiananmen Square, Taiwan and Tibet. These matters are not only ignored in conversation, but also in all formed of media. Even Chinese textbooks briefly mention these topics, if at all. Americans abuse free speech while the Chinese fear free speech.