Land of Contradictions

During the cultural orientation I learned that China is very proud of their long history and the social and political influence they have acquired being a leader in the global mechanism. Recently, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, China was plagued by civil unrest, famine, military defeats, and foreign occupation. Shortly after this turmoil, the communists under General Mao Zedong established an autocratic socialist system that, while ensuring China’s sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life. General Mao’s reign was succeeded by Deng Xiaoping whose main focus was the development of the market economy which was largely successful. It is intriguing that through all this turmoil, for most Chinese, the ideology of the West only offered tools for advancement in power and prosperity (capitalism through a market economy), but did not offer models for political and social systems.

China and the U.S. are similar in that they both are countries of contradictions. In the U.S. we glorify sports, but a majority of the country is obese. The building block of the Chinese social system does not revolve around the individual but rather the collective whole. This is contradictory due to the fact that large group of Chinese are in awe of the “me” attitude that the West imposes. The idea that China is “unified” with “multiple systems” instead of “individualistic” like the West is a major reason there exists cultural disparities between the two global powers today. The “rebellious” nature of the individualistic mindset is one that many Chinese don’t want to cross due to the fact that they consider their country to be in harmony. It will be interesting to limit my individualistic expressions in the workplace in order to maintain the harmony of the “collective whole”.

Through the principals of guanxi and mianzi, I will work toward not just benefiting myself but also the company and the peers that I will be surrounded by on a daily basis. I am looking forward to experiencing the many similarities and differences that our two countries share in a professional setting.

George P.

Peek, George

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