A European Discovers China: 3 First Impressions

Written by Hanneke, NL

China Unlimited Europe 2015

Some time ago I boarded an airplane to discover China.  Flanked by my husband and two teenage boys, I traveled around in north and south. I visited big cities and tiny rural villages. I came back with a truckload of impressions!  There were moments of wonder and admiration.  And there were moments of profound confusion.

‘How will China influence the world?’  Since I experienced China ‘from within’, and talked with many people born and raised in China (in English, but on a next trip hopefully in Mandarin), the question keeps popping up in my head.  ‘How will Chinese and Europeans/ Westerners engage each other in the years ahead?’  I am not sure if I have found the answer yet.  But some impressions I collected during my discovery of China (impressions, not conclusions or judgments) help to shine a light.  Let me share 3 of those impressions with you here.

The overriding impression I got while visiting this fascinating country was the extraordinary way China is dealing with change.  Sure, it is struggling with a variety of challenges: for instance the increasing gap between rich and poor, the gap between the new and the older generations, environmental challenges that come with its growth, etc. But through this all I witnessed people that are creating, building, moving forward, improving, lifting themselves. This is not change forced by a crisis. This is change driven by a passion to create progress.

It made me think: What if we in Europe are busier with trying not to lose what we have than with trying to create our future in this changing world?  What if we are more occupied with ourselves than with what is happening around us? What if we are hindered by a certain cynicism that is triggered by a fear of letting go?

A second and profound impression was the importance Chinese attach to establishing and keeping harmony in almost everything. In human relations; in what and how to eat (and do I love Chinese food!); in the way the Chinese approach health and medical issues; in the way they design houses, gardens, buildings; in the way they use the public space together. Even when observing the chaotic traffic, where nobody seems to pay attention to any kind of rule, you begin to see the harmony after a while (e.g. everybody is more or less moving with the same speed, and the honk is used to warn each other rather then to scare each other off).

Chinese people (I know I’m generalizing here) seem to put harmony and balance above individual needs and aspirations. Showing yourself by openly sharing a blunt personal opinion will probably not be seen as being brave or honest, but as being reckless, naive or even stupid.  And I will never forget what one Chinese lady explained to me in earnest: ‘We don’t like to say no.’

It made me think: What if we in Europe/the West have the tendency to engage the Chinese with an individualistic orientation? What if we implicitly value the individual more than the group? Could we perhaps learn something from China here?  Does the new generation in China (coming from ‘one child’ families) value this concept of harmony as much as their parents do? Are we Europeans sufficiently aware of these differences and potential evolutions?

Last but not least. My third impression, which left me speechless on several occasions, was that the Chinese know a lot about the West (let’s say USA and Europe).  Asking me where I came from, answering “Brussels”, and than receiving the reaction: “Brussels? But you say you are Dutch, so you left your country?” Knowing geography on such a detailed level. But also knowing a lot about how Europe evolved, being able to name important events and dates in history, and describing differences between the US and Europe.  And I am not talking about those Chinese who lived or studied in the West. I am talking about Chinese people who never left their country in their entire lives. When I enquired how they knew all this, the typical reply was: “At school. We learn a lot about Europe and the USA at school.  And we have internet of course. Internet is great.”

It made me think: What do we in the West really teach our children about China? About its language, its vastness and diversity? About its people and the defining moments in its history? What if the Chinese know much more about us than we know about them? How will that influence our relationship?

Three first impressions.

And there is still so much to discover.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

Deutsche Bank again in the middle of the US-EU economic skirmishes

Bugged Europe accepts US demands and blocks Morales plane

Failing to see reality or deceiving the masses? The EU about poverty and social exclusion

How will Brexit affect higher education in the EU?

The EU can afford to invest trillions in support of employment

EU-US trade talks go ahead despite Prism and civil rights breach

Why the euro may rise with the dollar even at lower interest rates

New skills needed for medical students in Industry 4.0

Why the Greeks forgave Tsipras’ pirouettes around austerity and voted again for SYRIZA

A Sting Exclusive: “Our ambition is by 2020 Indonesia to become an emerging power of World’s Maritime Access”, reveals the Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Indonesia in Brussels, treating WEF, ASEAN and EU-Indonesia relations on the eve of the World Economic Forum East Asia 2015 in Jakarta

European Youth Forum @ European Business Summit 2014: European Youth Unemployment

UK’s Cameron takes the field to speed up TTIP talks. Will “rocket boosters” work?

Where is Egypt leading the Middle East and the Mediterranean economy?

ECB doesn’t dare touch Eurozone’s big banks

Pro-EU forces won a 70% triumph in the European elections

Love Affair with Some(one)/(thing)

Irish Presidency: Not a euro more for EU budgets

Greece did it again

New skills agenda for Europe needs real investment

A Young entrepreneur cries out: “start in Europe, stay in Europe”

The European Sting @ Mobile World Congress 2014, Creating What’s Next for the World. Can EU Policy follow?

Who is to lose from the 6-month extension of the EU economic sanctions against Russia?

Germany loses leading export place

Eurozone: Bankers-politicians rig keeps robbing taxpayers

Eurozone: Negative statistics bring deflation and recession closer

South Eurozone countries threatened by rising borrowing cost and expensive euro

South Eurozone urgently needs fairer distribution of taxation burden

ITU Telecom World 2017: exploring smart digital transformation

The EU slowly exits from “Excessive Deficit Procedure” and hopefully from ‘Excessive Austerity Procedure’ too

Human rights in Brussels and in Beijing: a more balanced approach needed

France asks help from Germany but it will not be for free

Draghi’s ‘quasi’ announcement of a new era of more and cheaper money

Ministers for Youth miss the opportunity to improve social inclusion of young people

Germany hides its own banks’ problems

After Brexit and Grexit, Brussels to deal with Poloust

European Council: Choosing new leaders for the EU betrays efforts for a wider arrangement

The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union will impact young people’s future the most

Greece’s future solely in the hands of Tsipras; he can direct the poor country any way he likes

Forget about growth without a level playing field for all SMEs

The “Legend of the Sun” wishes you Happy Chinese New Year 2015 from Brussels

Cancer research put at risk by General Data Protection Regulation? The possible dangers of a data privacy EU mania

French election: Will France vote for a reformed or no EU?

IMF – World Bank meetings: US – Germany clash instituted, anti-globalization prospects visualized

The West and Russia impose a new order on the world

European Youth Forum celebrates 20 years of fighting for youth rights

Poverty and social exclusion skyrocket with austerity

The EU threatens to occupy Libya militarily; is another colonial war brewing?

Impacting society with digital ingenuity – World Summit Award proclaiming the top 8 worldwide

IMF’s Lagarde indirectly cautioned Eurozone on deflation

CHINA UNLIMITED. PEOPLE UNLIMITED. RESTRICTIONS LIMITED

230 Junior Entrepreneurs and over 70 guests attended the International Congress on “Entrepreneurial Skills for Youth”

COP21 Breaking News_04 December: Launch of CREWS, climate risk & early warning systems

MWC 2016 LIVE: Under Armour learns from “robust community of data”

Deutsche Bank: the next financial crisis is here and the lenders need €150 billion from taxpayers

MWC 2016 Live: Roshan CEO opens up on Afghanistan challenges

Cameron’s “No Brexit” campaign wins top business support as Tory front breaks

Greece returns to markets at a high cost to taxpayers, after four years out in the cold

EU Parliament semi worried over democratic deficit

Berlin and Paris pursue the financial fragmentation of Eurozone

Eurozone: Economic sentiment-business climate to collapse without support from exports

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s