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Cultural Awareness

Cultural Overview

Confucianism and conservative philosophies (Before 1919 ): Since ancient times, Chinese culture has been heavily influenced by Confucianism and conservative philosophies. For much of the country's dynastic era, opportunities for social advancement could be provided by high performance in the prestigious imperial examinations, which have their origins in the Han Dynasty. The literary emphasis of the exams affected the general perception of cultural refinement in China, such as the belief that calligraphy, poetry and painting were higher forms of art than dancing or drama. Chinese culture has long emphasized a sense of deep history and a largely inward-looking national perspective.

ŸMay Fourth Movement and reformist ideals lead to a conflicted, lost and enclosed era: Reformist sought to change some traditional aspects of Chinese culture, such as rural land tenure, sexism, and the Confucian system of education, while preserving others, such as the family structure and culture of obedience to the state. Some observers see the period following the establishment of the PRC in 1949 as a continuation of traditional Chinese dynastic history, while others claim that the Communist Party's rule has damaged the foundations of Chinese culture, especially through political movements such as the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, where many aspects of traditional culture were destroyed, having been denounced as "regressive and harmful" or "vestiges of feudalism". Many important aspects of traditional Chinese morals and culture, such as Confucianism, art, literature, and performing arts like Peking opera were altered to conform to government policies and propaganda at the time. Access to foreign media remains heavily restricted; only 34 foreign films a year are allowed to be shown in Chinese cinemas.

ŸFor most Chinese university graduate students, future choices mainly are going to graduate schools in China, going to the job market directly and going abroad to go further study. Only a very small portion of students will treat the idea of starting up their own business really seriously. Firstly, we do not have systematical training or mentorship in university system that will teach necessary skills and mindsets for startups. Secondly, the pressure from family is kind of heavy. Traditional Chinese parents regard such choices as bold, immature and driven by impulse, they will probably tell you that there is a large possibility that you will fail and you may waste several years doing meaningless things while your peers are climbing their way in those SOEs. It is hard to get support and funding from your family, not to mention the starting fund is not a small number for most middle-class Chinese families. However, we do have a bunch of successful cases of young people (newly graduates) starting their business in China over the past few years. We have the domestic list of 30 under 30 in startups just like the one Forbes lists in US.

As mentioned above, China is still loosening its control over some areas. Plus, China has only one legal ruling party, which makes China pick up more quickly than other developing countries half a hundred years ago while leaves space for rent seeking activities. For example, China’s internet infrastructure (Backbone network) is almost monopolized by China Union and China Telecom (two giant SOEs in telecommunication industry, with combined market share of over 80%), which makes its downstream companies such as third-party IDC and CDN providers suffers a lot due to higher purchasing cost for fundamental resources .

Cultural Surprises

Most Chinese people are still not used to take responsibility: Thousands of years of imperial rule makes people believe that it’s safer and better to be silent than speaking loud. This belief sends Chinese people thinking subconsciously that they act as a group not an individual. When people thinks they act as a group, nobody is willing to take responsibility and efficiency falls.

ŸSome Chinese guys dream about taking short cuts: When China just opened itself to the rest of the world, there did exist some people take advantage of this opportunity to do arbitrage and make a big fortune. Era like that has gone forever, but there are some guys willing to believe taking short cuts can work out in today’s China (There do exist some slim chances, but not every civilian can seize it).

ŸPower still works more effectively in China then some other countries: