Knowledge | Understanding the Chinese culture: #1 Traditions versus modern China

Crayfish.io offers insight into Chinese business culture.

If you intend to interact with Chinese people for business purposes, it is advisable to learn some basics about the Chinese culture, which is very different from the West. In a series of blog posts over the coming weeks, we aim to close your knowledge gap and help you prepare for doing business with China.

We start by introducing Confucianism – the discipline and furniture of the mind, and the dominant philosophy and ideology in China for over 2500 years.

 

Born in 551 BC, Kongzi, also known as Confucius, was a great thinker, politician and academic.  He lived during the Chou dynasty, an era known for its moral laxity. Later in life, he wandered through many states of China, giving advice to their rulers. His writings deal primarily with individual morality and ethics, and the proper exercise of political power by the rulers. Confucianism has been part of the Chinese social fabric and way of life since then. However, Confucianism is a set of ethical rules and not a religion, as some people describe it in the West.

Confucianism propagates “Ren” (Love) and “Li” (rituals). It regards the moral responsibility of the family as the cornerstone of order in society: first comes family, then society, and finally, the individual. Respect for hierarchy was advocated by Confucius to keep society in good order. For individual behaviour, Confucianism emphasises the importance of self-restraint, self-control, a good work ethic and moral principles.

The social ethics and moral teachings of Confucius are blended with the Taoist communion with nature and Buddhist concepts of the afterlife, to form a set of complementary, peacefully co-existent and ecumenical religions.

Chinese people are proud of their rich traditions and adhere to them as normal ways of life. For example, during the Qingming Festival in early April people travel (sometime hundreds of miles) to “sweep” the tombs of their ancestors to remember them but also to obtain their blessings.

Economic development in China over the past three decades has transformed the life of Chinese people, especially for those living in its cities. When you travel to China, you will find that today’s China is an amalgamation of old world traditions and a westernised lifestyle. Amazingly, the two co-exist in harmony just like the traditional Yin & Yang, the formula of balance.

 

More cultural insight to come. Watch this space!