However, for a nation that has been closed-off by society for over 30 years, growth has come too slowly. And even historically, China was closed off from the world between the 14th and 19th Centuries.
While the English and other empires exploited it, they suffered the consequences of this closure, caused by previous leaders, emperors and themselves. To even learn a new writing-style has been more difficult. Call it wildly confusing! Starting since 1979, when the Pinyin writing system was established. Finally, something could be said in Chinese without the characters.
Fascinating as this sounds, it’s extraordinary! A country with 5,000 years of history has the need to learn a new form of writing to grow and to learn from others. Even more, English to get out of the ‘shell’ it has been living and learn about the outside world and that not only Chinese exist, but 180 other nations across the globe.
The Chinese way
Sadly their education is great, but only for China, while being flawed in so many ways. This country depends on memorization for everything and not creativity and here is where the nation can stagnate at any given moment. Beyond their borders they do not know what’s going on, not with Hong Kong or Taiwan for that matter, to them is something foreign and although they consider these territories to be autonomous, they still don’t understand the politics that govern them. All they understand is that China should be one, and while dichotomies fly, this mighty-place has problems accepting what is either: Communist, Capitalist, Democratic or a Dictatorial government for that matter.
Even writing about it is confusing. Capitalism has come and they understand they can buy, but what they can’t figure out is what? Is it a new car to prove status? They try to be Westernize and suddenly fighting to hold on to the conservative values that so long ago have begun to slip and disappear. Changes and formations are doing a “leap forward” and have come with what is new in their society, learning English for a better life and that all Chinese want to make money through “Foreign trade”.
Most importantly, learning about foreigners to do customer service, business and not lose money; which more often then not they lose money through their own incompetence, ignorance and they are simply taken advantage of. It seems like the words out of every person’s mouth.
However, can they do business? Mostly, those that live on the East Coast of China do understand this reality when seeing how other forms of government work. But first, through a Western style education they have to be awoken.
Even opening a bank account can be difficult if the name of your passport is too long. They don’t have the common sense to think for themselves. While the rules of the game change from business to business, depending on the moods or time zones. Take China Mobile, at one place they will charge one price for an international number, while in the other they will not! Prices suddenly even change on their cell phones, when an original was established!
Their education is good, but not that good, only for China there is a way. Memorize it all! And what happens “when the bottle breaks”, all the liquid will pour! The same continues to happen with their brain. They are ‘taskmasters’ within themselves, and at the same time, this is something to be admired. No breaks for failures. They are nearly driven to breaking points that no Westerner would ever consider. Most are usually crying under stress and deep depression. Examples are, how many words have you learned today for English? They actually count the words they learn in a foreign tongue; while I try to find creative ways on learning Chinese.
Also what makes Chinese so special is their patience, tolerance or temperament towards Westerners. They are willing to accept and tolerate, while we easily don’t! Life is getting good for the Chinese, but it can get even better in the business of “Quality of life”.
China on the global stage
It’s just a matter of time and when they realize what they are missing out from other societies. Nobody pretends that they stop being Chinese and on the other hand, wake-up to a world of reality! So they will not be taken advantage of from Westerners or other societies for that matter. The world is changing. The markets are going global and 1.4 billion people have to get into this race. This is one for the history books and their survival. One population that has to make it and the other extreme is to eliminate poverty; while giving social acceptance to foreigners internally and externally without ignorance.
Can China accept this without resistance to another historical-closure or language? Maybe it can, but it is time to focus on opening the “flood gates” of knowledge and not only operating on Confucius’ time or with Chairman Mao’s rights or wrongs. It has to do what it has been doing for these past 20 years, expand and go forward!
In confusion, the Chinese can confuse the Westerner and furthermore, themselves. You may ask why? The answer is not that clear and it’s the way they are. Special and unique, and not willing to easily change five millennium of history for barely 900 which is the case of England or 200 when dealing with the United States; plus, the latter two have not been the best examples for the 19th or 20th Centuries. The Chinese world can be forgiving; however, people in China don’t easily forget what has been done to them.
By Daniel Otero
Company: TEFL, Zhuji, China