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Chinese culture

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Cross-Cultural Communication
at NC State University
Diane Armstrong
Office of International
Cultural Orientation
Collectivism & Individualism
• Collectivist – group loyalty, decision-making oriented to group welfare
• Individualistic – importance placed on goals and autonomy of individual
Time Orientation (developed by Chinese scholars from Confucian principles)
• Long term – value thrift and persistence
• Short term – value tradition, upholding social obligations and quick results
Power Distance
• Low – social equality, reduction of hierarchy (tend to be individualistic)
• High – recognized authorities should not be challenged (tend to be collectivist)
Etiquette and Non-Verbal Communication
• Saying �No’: refusal of a request or saying �no’ can disrupt social harmony or “face”
• Instead of saying �no’ Chinese may respond with “I will consider it” or “that would be
• Some American gestures, such as shrugging shoulders or winking, are not common in
Chinese culture and may be misunderstood.
Spatial Relationships
• Touching (i.e. patting someone’s back or putting an arm around someone) is
uncommon in Chinese culture and will likely make a Chinese person uncomfortable.
• Social distance, or the acceptable distance between two people, differs significantly in
each culture. Americans may find that Chinese culture is oriented to a closer social
Source: http://www.cultural
Presented by Dr. Xiaoying Wang
Visiting Professor (Nanjing Normal University)
Deputy Director of Confucius Institute at NCSU
A vast territory of about 9,600,000 sq.Km. Ranked number 4 in
the world!
China is divided into 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities
directly under the Central Government and 2 special administrative regions
Chinese People
A huge population of more than 1300 million people of 56 ethnic
Chinese Culture
Chinese culture embodies the philosophy of holism. Ancient
Chinese philosophers believed that all things are interrelated,
and that Heaven, Earth, and Humanity form a unified whole.
The Origins of Chinese Civilization
Early Civilization
China�s Stone Age lasted for at least one
million years. The Chinese ancestors started
to make pottery during the late Neolithic
Period, around 5000 BC. This period is
represented by Yangshao Culture, on the
middle reaches of the Yellow River.
Painted pottery vessel with human faces and fish,
Yangshao Culture (c. 5000-3000 BC)
The Origins of Chinese Civilization
Jade Culture
The late Neolithic Age saw the advent of China's unique "jade culture."
Jade cong with carved animal face,
Liangzhu Culture (c. 3300-2200 BC)
Jade dragon, Hongshan Culture (c. 3500 BC)
During the 6th century BC, the Confucian school of philosophy held that ritual jade objects
were symbolic of human nature. Their soft luster represented serenity, while their flawless
clarity represented refinement of character. As Confucianism developed, ritual jade objects
were appropriated by the nobility as emblems of rank and status. Even more importantly, they
came to be seen as symbols of evolved character and moral perfection.
The Origins of Chinese Civilization
Bronze Culture
China's Bronze Culture reached its peak in the 16th
century BC and flourished for 1000 years. Bronze was
used primarily to craft ritual objects and musical
instruments, rather than the agricultural tools and
weapons characteristic of other Bronze Age cultures.
Many cast bronze objects bearing accounts of sacrificial
rites and historical incidents were made during this time,
providing important records of the period.
Writing and Language
Chinese characters are China's principal form of writing. The
history of Chinese characters spans over 3000 years, making
them one of the world's oldest forms of written communication.
Qin Shihuang, China's first emperor, standardized Chinese
characters in 221 BC. China's ethnic minorities also have a
number of unique writing systems.
Writing and Language
Chinese Characters
Chinese characters are written within a square framework, so they are
sometimes referred to in Chinese as "square writing."
Evolution of the character "ж—Ґ" (ri, sun)
Evolution of the characters “鱼” (yu, fish) and“马” (ma, horse)
The evolution of Chinese characters and calligraphy provides
insight into the development of human society.
Fragments of oracle bone script,
Shang Dynasty (c. 1600-1046 BC)
Bronze tallies of Lord Qi of E,
Warring States Period (475-221 BC)
Chinese Art
The art of ancient Egypt, India, and Babylon has receded into
the mists of the past. That of China, on the other hand, has
developed without interruption for thousands of years. Chinese
art is richly diverse and highly comprehensive, encompassing
many forms and styles.
Chinese Art
In China, a person who can produce
beautiful calligraphy is considered to
be highly cultured.
Traditional Chinese calligraphy uses
brushes made from animal hair to
apply ink to paper, producing
uniquely graceful brushstrokes.
Chinese Art
Traditional Chinese painting uses brushes to apply ink and
pigment to thin silk or paper, which is then mounted on
scrolls. Great importance is placed on fluidity and
expressiveness of line. Chinese painting holds that
revealing essence is more important than representing form.
Traditional Chinese painting actually is an integration of
painting, poetry, calligraphy and seal carving.
Chinese Art
"Sculpture is the forerunner of all art." This
saying truly describes the Chinese sculptural
arts. Jade carvings of people, pottery figurines
of young women, and sculptures and carvings
of animals appeared in China as early as the
Neolithic Age (c. 12,000-2000 BC). As Chinese
civilization flourished, so did Chinese sculpture.
Terracotta warriors of Qin Shihuang, Pit 2, Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC)
Buddhist Statue,
Longmen Grottoes
(post-5th century AD)
Chinese Art
Traditional Chinese architecture emphasizes harmony
between structure and surroundings. Whether palace,
temple, garden, or residence, traditional Chinese
buildings blend with the surrounding landscape into an
integrated whole. Even inside a building, human beings
and nature are not separate,
but rather form a unified whole.
Forbidden City, Beijing
Jichang Garden, Wuxi, Jiangsu Province
Chinese Philosophy
Traditional Chinese philosophy puts great importance on personal ethics and
morality, holding that only a person of superior character can achieve domestic
harmony and national progress.
The 6th through 3rd centuries BC saw the flourishing of traditional Chinese
philosophy. Numerous schools of thought advanced their ideas during this time.
Among them, Confucianism and Daoism had the greatest influence on the
development of Chinese culture.
Chinese Philosophy
Confucianism emerged between the 6th through 5th century BC.
Its founder, Confucius, expanded upon ancient Chinese concepts
of humanism. He emphasized the value of the individual, the
cultivation of personal ethics, and the importance of moral
character. The concepts of benevolence ( д»Ѓ ren ) and propriety
( з¤ј li ) were the central tenants of Confucianism, and became the
foundation of mainstream Chinese culture.
д»Ѓ rГ©n
义 yì
з¤ј lЗђ
Portrait of Confucius (551-479 BC)
Benevolence, to be
humanity, mercy and
Justness, to be
righteousness ;
Rituals, custom and law, to
be polite;
智 zhì
Wisdom, to be
knowledgeable and well
信 xìn
royalty, faithfulпјЊreliableпјЊ
accountable, responsible,
Chinese Philosophy
Daoist philosophy teaches that although all things exist in a state
of transformation, they also possess an underlying order. This
constantly changing, self-balancing order is known as the Dao, or
the Way.
How to get into a realm of absolutely individual
freedom or liberty?
No accomplishment (success)
No reputation (fame, prestige)
No self-conscious (ego)
He who knows that
enough is enough
will always have
Be tranquility,
Stone carving of Laozi, Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC)
Basic values in Chinese culture and Chinese way of thinking
Integration of Heaven and Men
Heaven and Men are in a unity
The interests of a family, a group or a country are
more important than those of an individual
Rule of virtue; rule of morals;
“kingly way” vs. “hegemonical way”
The Value Priority in Traditional Chinese Culture
The value of morality prior to that of utility;
The value of moral merit prior to that of intelligent;
The value of group prior to that of individuals;
The value of peace and safety prior to that of freedom
and liberty;
The value of harmony prior to that of conflict.
“peace” and
Chinese culture emphasizes harmony. It
respects the differences between cultures
and civilizations, in accordance with the
traditional Chinese philosophy of "seeking
unity in diversity." Chinese culture provides
a unique foundation from which to learn
from other cultures, maximize creativity,
and pursue self-improvement.
Thank you very much.
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