Invisible culture


Group values

When you go studying in China, you will see many cultural differences. For example, individualism and collectivism. In many western countries individualism determines the way people interact with each other. Children are raised in order to take care of their selves and if they disagree of something, they are encouraged to say something about it. However, in China, this is different. The collectivistic culture here makes group values very important. People are expected to do what is the best for the atmosphere of the group, so when you do some group work in China, you also need to think about it.

There is an interesting example of collectivism in China. In city parks, hundreds of elderly people are engaging in many social and collectivist activities such as martial arts, gymnastics, singing, dancing, playing various board or card games, etc. Nowadays, younger people possess a more individual outlook on life, but still they think collectivism is important for everything in their life.

Far or close?

You can also find a difference between western cultures and Chinese cultures in power distance. In China, there is strong power distance. The subordinate-superior relationship tends to be polarized and there is no defense against power abuse by superiors. Individuals are influenced by formal authority and sanctions and are in general optimistic about people’s capacity for leadership and initiative. Power distance is also in a school and you will feel it when you talk with teacher in Chine. Teachers are higher rank than students, so students need to be polite to their teachers. In China, there is a day dedicated to the teacher to thank their hard work- the Teacher’s Day. However, the respect for teachers can sometimes come from fear of the teachers. Students in elementary and high school get used to in university always need to have patience, and keep asking their students whether they have questions.

This is also one of the differences between western cultures and the Chinese culture. Students in a class room in  university in China are quiet, so it is difficult for you to ask something to teacher when you have a question. How about uncertainty avoidance? It reflects the extent to which members of a society attempt to cope with anxiety by minimizing uncertainty.


Chinese people have low uncertaincy avoidance. Truth may be relative though in the immediate social circles there is concern for Truth with a capital T and rules (but not necessarily laws) abound.  None the less, adherence to laws and rules may be flexible to suit the actual situation and pragmatism is a fact of life. The Chinese are comfortable with ambiguity. Chinese are adaptable and entrepreneurial.  At the time of writing the majority (70% -80%) of Chinese businesses tend to be small to medium sized and family owned. In study life in China, you can challenge many things with your Chinese friend without fear to do it in your university, but you need remember to keep good atmosphere in your group when you do group work.


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