News and views that Americans should think about but are not reported on or discussed by the American mainstream media.
Real Chinese people
What the National American Media says about Chinese people.
What is the American's mass media's (the National Media - the big 3 networks, the NY times, CNN, AP, etc.) view of the Chinese? Doesn't the media portray them as enemies of free speech, enemies of the USA, human rights oppressors, job stealers, etc. Isn't that how the media has trained many Americans to think of the Chinese? Well, I have had the privilege of being able to travel to China several times for 2-4 week stays and work side by side with Chinese people. When you get to know them, you quickly find out that the American media either has no idea what they are writing/talking about or are purposely misleading the American public for their own agenda or whomever they are working for. They selectively cover stories that they consider important: human rights violations. The real Chinese people are far from what the media portrays.
Before I started working with Chinese people, I was leery of them because my only exposure to them was through the National American Media. I can only say that my distrust of the National American Media has only grown as a result of what I found when I got to know Chinese people. Who knows how many other areas the media misleads people about? I suspect that most of what this National Media reports is skewed by their bias and most of the time, the complete real story is never allowed to be heard. They have become the American equivalent to the old Soviet Union Pravda except this media is being run by only one of the political parties in our government - obviously it is being run by the Democratic party.
What I observed while working with Chinese people
The following are observations from my getting to know the Chinese people that I had the privilege of working with from 2005 to about 2009. Does this mean that all Chinese are like this? No, but I probably met and worked with over a hundred Chinese and all exhibited these qualities to some degree or another.
Chinese people are a humble people. They are quick to listen rather than speak. They respect others and do not put themselves first. They appear to many westerner's to be stubbornly arrogant when a problem is pointed out and has to be fixed. What I observed is not born out of arrogance, but rather a very strongly instilled value of preserving the honor of their family name, their company, their community, and their nation. They don't seem to resist correction based on any personal embarrassment that they may have to suffer, but rather they want to save their families, companies, communities, and nation from any embarrassment.
Chinese people are a happy people. They are not happy that they are "stealing jobs" like many Americans tend to think. They are grateful to have a job. Their families have been so poor for so long, that to have a high paying job (compared to what their families have made in the past - not compared to American jobs) is a joy for them. They do the work happily as they have never seen such prosperity before. Even though many live far from their families in worker's dormitories with 6 or so room mates at the factories, they joyfully endure this for the high paying job so that they can help out their families. How many Americans would ever consider enduring such conditions for their job? How many less of these that would be grateful for that job? If roles were reversed, how many Americans would not take the work? If I were a Chinese person whose family has been poor for decades and have an opportunity to get work that would provide desperately needed income to lift my family at least part way out of poverty, would I take the job? I believe that 100% of Americans who are working or want to work would honestly have to answer that they would take that job if they were in those shoes. So, why fault them for wanting jobs and working when they have the opportunity to?
Are they working in a "sweat shop"? I know that it gets hot there in the summer and people sweat. They are enduring the sweat because they want the income. Do they have a choice? Yes, they have a choice to stay in their home town and be poor or work in a factory and earn more money than their families ever could for their families. They have chosen to work in the factories because they must believe that it is better for them and their families if they work there than to stay poor at home. No one is holding a gun to their heads and telling them that they have to work in a factory. In fact, many workers go home for Chinese New Year and decide to stay at home rather than returning to the factory. They miss their families and have made enough while they worked in the factories to lift their families from the poverty they were in.
Some might point out that they are getting jobs at the expense of American jobs and to that, I would ask: "Would you take a job far from your family, live with 5 other people in a dorm with no air conditioning, work with no air conditioning, and wear a uniform to work?" Most people who have been wealthy (compared to the rest of the world) would say no, but most people who have lived in poverty for generations would probably say yes. Unfortunately, most people in America have no idea how blessed they are and how ungrateful they are.
Chinese people are eager to please. They will bend over backward to help. The first project that I worked on with Chinese people clearly demonstrated this. They were given a literal mess by the design team from the states that worked on the project. In order to keep the project on schedule, they made tooling per the design specifications that were a mess. They ended up with a mess on their hands where the product could not even be put together. A handful of people from the USA and a lot of Chinese people (Hong Kong people as well as mainland China people) were tasked with straightening out the mess while keeping the project on schedule. We went through some very, very tough times getting the project back on track. Both the small American team and the large Chinese team worked long hours to fix what the design team made a mess of. I felt like I had gone through something like a war with the Chinese/American team and when a group of people go through a war together, tight knit bonds are formed as happened in this case. They became good friends and not just co-workers.
Chinese people generally have a high respect for people in authority and older people. Older people are revered for their wisdom that comes only from years of experience. People who have mastered skills are given the special title of Si Fu (Chinese for Master). I had to privilege of working with one such master of engineering skills and was amazed at the respect he was given by his younger co-workers.
Chinese people highly value education. This value is instilled in the very young to through the college graduates. School children were actually excited to have the privilege to learn and they genuinely looked upon it as a privilege - not a chore, not a right, but what it really is, a privilege. Teachers are respected. Chinese students wear uniforms. This is a sign of respect. Their children are taught that the individual is not as important as the group. It's about the family, the company, the community, and the nation not the individual. Teachers are respected and honored because of their experience and knowledge.
I was quit surprised at the amount of Chinese flags I saw flying when I was in China. They were everywhere. They are very proud and excited about their country. They are patriotic. They didn't have the police forcing them to be patriotic as the National American Media sometimes tries to imply - they are just very happy to be Chinese in a country that is on the rise. They have corruption in their politics and everyone knows it. Contrary to most media reports, the Chinese do not fear talking about politics. I was amazed at how open they were and about how politically active they actually are. They have a keen interest in world events as well as events in their country. They were very curious about my political views as well.
Chinese people do not expect entitlements from their government. They are not parasites living off of the government (actually parasites to those who pay taxes to the government). They take care of their families and themselves. They don't ask what the government can do for them, they ask what they can do for their families, companies, and nation. The individual is not the most important thing. Isn't it ironic that Chinese follow JFK's philosophy in his famous quote "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country" much closer than our current American culture does?
Divorce is relatively rare in China when you compare their rate to western nations. This is born out of their culture and their responsibility. The emphasis is on the family, not the individual.
Lawyers per capita
Chinese people don't go running off to get a lawyer just because a someone or a company makes a mistake. They don't go running off to a lawyer every time they get "offended". Chinese lawyers aren't in every school and every town threatening lawsuits for anything that might "offend". The Chinese people are a grateful people and a busy people. They don't have time to get into everyone else's affairs. If they buy a product that is not good, they don't buy it again. They don't sue because they got a bad product. They are not "offended" at other people's beliefs; they coexist with them. They don't flee to a lawyer if their children get disciplined by another adult or if they get hurt playing. They don't have malpractice lawsuits (they respect and trust their doctors as well as other professionals).
Racism does not exist in China. I even openly asked about this and they said that racism didn't exist in China. I realize that them saying something does not necessarily mean that it is true, but I always felt welcome wherever I went. I would go to the grocery by myself and people obviously recognized that I was not Chinese, but they did not discriminate or treat me any differently than one of themselves. I saw many people of different races in China and Hong Kong and never heard or saw anything that would indicate that racism exists. Think of the Chinese in America. Do they exhibit anything racist about themselves? I have never seen it. Race is not an issue with the Chinese. Contrary to what the National American Media says, race is not an issue with the vast majority of Americans. This is a subject for a future article on racism in the USA.
Chinese people are a hospitable people. They welcomed me into their workplace, their homes in some cases, and into their meals. As many American business men know, the Chinese have meals family style. That is, the dishes are community dishes for the whole table. They start by using separate utensils (in this case, chops ticks of course) for each dish that stays with the dish. (Similar to how a pair of lettuce tongs would stay with the large salad bowl and people would just use the tongs to put some salad on their plate and then put the tongs back into the salad bowl.) But, as you get to know them and they feel more comfortable with you, they revert to what I think is most natural to them - they pick what they want out of the community dish using the their own chop sticks and so did I. They aren't germ phobics. They don't care about mine and I didn't care about theirs. One of my favorite meals with the Chinese is their "da bin oh" or "hot pot". It is a pot of steaming broth that sits under a heater in the center of the table. The diners pick raw ingredients (vegetables, meats, fish, etc) and drop them into the central pot. They chat while the food cooks and you just pull out what you want when it is cooked. One pot shared by all. People just put more raw ingredients in as the cooked ingredients are consumed. One cannot help but feel a welcoming bond with them as they shared such an intimate meal with a foreigner like me.
The Chinese made and make the effort to speak English to their American (and most foreign) visitors. It is sort of an unofficial universal language for business. I think that many of us native speaking English people take this for granted, but I don't as result of trying to learn a little bit of Chinese. I was so poor at it that I realized how grateful I was that they spoke English so that I didn't have to make the effort to learn conversational Chinese. They are the ones putting the effort into learning our language - not the other way around.
I also noticed that many of them are so grateful when I used just a little bit of Chinese. I learned "thank you" and "good morning" and some other phrases. It was rare when I didn't get at least a smile when I used them. They seemed genuinely surprised and grateful that someone would make that small effort.
It is sad to me that most Chinese do not have place for religion in their society. This may be a state mandate, I don't know. I do know that there are churches and temples in Hong Kong, but I didn't see any in mainland China. I also know that underground churches do exist in China, but it seemed the vast majority of Chinese that I met do not have any religious affiliation. They do not look down upon those who believe in God like I do, but they don't seem to be interested or have time for it. The behavior of the Chinese is more in line with Christianity than many people I know who call themselves Christians.
Chinese like pre-1960's Americans?
While Chinese people are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, they are a lot closer to what America used to be like before approximately the 1960's. American people were a more humble people. They respected their elders and teachers. They worked hard and were happy. They valued education. They recognized a common decency and had a common knowledge of right and wrong. They were proud to be Americans.
Contrast Chinese with growing number of Americans
Many Americans are the most generous, humble, happy, hard working, grateful, respectful, patriotic, and welcoming Christian people I know. I believe this was the vast majority many years ago. However, there is a significant and growing number of Americans who don't exhibit these fine qualities, but seem to be embracing the antithesis of these qualities. Are they a majority yet? I'm not sure, but if they are not, they are on the brink of being a majority. As a culture, we used to embrace these ideals, but it doesn't seem like we do any longer. As a culture, the Chinese seem to embrace many of these ideals. The contrasts below contrast a nearly universal Chinese set of traits with the traits of this growing number of Americans.
Many of my fellow Americans would use the trump card that at least Americans are free and the Chinese are not. I am hugely grateful to our founding Fathers and the freedom that they founded the country upon. I often thank God for the freedoms that we still do enjoy. However, with freedom comes responsibility. Today's America seems to have lost any sense of personal responsibility in our society's prevalent victim mentality. People just do what they want and don't seem to be worried about any consequences. No one holds them responsible any longer. No unwritten code of common decency or basic morals exists any more. At one time, people knew what was right and wrong without having to have a law or a lawyer to tell them so. Unfortunately, with the lack of personal responsibility, our culture is allowing the government to take away individual freedoms left and right. People used to have to pay for their own cell phones, now, because some government official decides that cell phones are a basic need for human existence, they take money from those who work to give cell phones to free loaders. They tell you who and whom you cannot sell to (via so-called discrimination). If I am selling my product or service, don't I have a right to whom I am going to sell it to? They will soon tell you which doctor you have to go to (thanks to Obamacare brought to you by a Democratic President and Democratic Congress and Senate). They tell you what size soft drink you can have (thanks to Democratic Mayor Bloomberg NYC). They tell you that you have to go against your conscience and provide birth control funding to your employees (also thanks to Obamacare). They take your tax dollars and fund organizations like planned parenthood directly opposing your values (thanks mostly to Democratic legislators). What used to be protected by free speech has now become hate speech if you say something that offends the wrong person (thanks to our wonderful legal system). And on and on and on and it is getting worse. I am not entirely sure that we are any more free than the Chinese now days.
I saw none of the tyrannical rule that is so feared by the National American Media. They portray the Chinese government as ruling like Hitler's Gestapo. Actually, our IRS under the Obama administration resembles the Gestapho much more than anything I saw or heard about in China. I am sure that the Chinese government tries to crack down on any anti-government activity (like protests). However, I do not know that most of the protests in America's history have actually been beneficial for the country or it's citizens. We do have the right to protest peacefully in the US, but it will only receive attention from the National Media if it is the "right" kind of protest as determined by them.
Am I a traitor?
No, I love the ideals this country was founded upon. I love that we still have as many freedoms as we have. I love those who defend the American freedoms and the Founding Father's ideals. I long for the old America. I long for people to have personal responsibility again. I loath the "me" attitude that is becoming more prevalent in today's American. The America that I grew up in was departing from the old America, but today's America hardly resembles the Founding Father's America at all anymore.