Every country has certain cultural strengths. China is a successful culture that has been the strongest culture in the world at various times in world history. What do they have that we can make use of in working here in China? Let’s talk about three.
Diligence is 1st Among Cultural Chinese Strengths
Diligence is commended strongly to children from earliest childhood. This really must be done or children will never learn to read the Chinese character. Only diligence can get a person all the way to native reading of advanced texts or test into college. If China had an alphabet, they likely would not have developed a diligent culture. Also, in ancient history China developed a merit based promotion system. Any peasant who diligently learned the Confucian classics to a highest level could become an official in the government and no longer be an oppressed peasant. Diligence was the key to advancement. So they further laud diligence.
Why do so many families make their kids study engineering? It is practical. Why do so many kids do it? They are diligent and accept order which we will go to in the next section.
You have heard me say that struggle is an important word in Chinese culture. When Trump pushed China harder on trade talks, the Chinese president went to a Famous Long March Memorial to say that Chinese people are diligent and can suffer like you cannot believe. See also Why Has China Not Moved on the Trade War.
Order is 2nd Among Chinese Strengths
Order is a huge part of Chinese success. Confucius saw the chaos of his time 2500 years ago and taught his disciples order chief among his teaching.
He strongly and repeatedly demanded that officials must follow the Emperor and the wife and children must follow the father. (Are we surprised that the Chinese governments like Confucious?)
So Chinese people know authority and the benefit of order. They respect absolute authority in ways that we cannot. The Chinese government likes to Strike Hard to put down dissent among minorities as an example. Chinese people generally see no problem with this.
When you put Diligence and Order together, you get a country that is great at large scale projects like the Three Gorges Dam and the 2008 Olympics. Actually, the list of Chinese big projects is prodigious as they found they are good at it.
Now, some of you will shake your heads and say the road intersections show that China has chaos. Chinese blow past weak leadership, but fall in line with a show of force. Some Chinese people respond to and respect Western leaders who respect them. Westerners who want a business built on respect and encouragement must be careful to hire Chinese people who can aspire to this path and not secretly disdain it. These Chinese people will still seek order and want leadership. (A notable downside is most Chinese managers will create fear too often, so you need careful recruiting.)
Chinese Poetry Reflects a Natural Chinese Strength
I note Chinese poetry as it connects with the Chinese heart like Western poetry has not touched us. China has an annual holiday in June in honor of Qu Yuan. He was an official before China understood order. He lamented foolish and corrupt leadership and did it in Chinese poetry that he personally developed that was more free. Chairman Mao and some other top leaders write poetry and gain great prestige for it still. China is a deep feeling culture unlike Japan. Chinese people feel Japanese people just talk on the surface and do not get to the heart. Due to being a fear and shame based culture, Chinese people have a lot of feelings. They long for a good family and often see their business as that family. We do well to grasp this.
China grew as a country as it has a great culture. Natural Chinese Strengths have deep roots in this country and are good to understand and make use of in good ways.