The People’s Republic of China is the biggest and the most powerful state in Asia, which impresses by dynamic development and diversity. The phenomenon of China’s economic success today is based on its culture, history, and traditions preserved for centuries and which gave a chance for such tremendous development of Chinese nation today.
Even today, China remains quite close society for Europeans, as its language, mentality, religious beliefs and social philosophy are unique and different from Western ones. The Chinese language is spoken by more than one billion people; it has many different dialects but has the only written communication, with hieroglyphs, which have the same meaning for all dialects (as different words may sound differently on local dialects). The Chinese language played a key-uniting factor in the establishment of Chinese national identity and unity for centuries.
It’s important to note that the Chinese language had changed little starting from 4th century BC and literal written language is very close to people’s one. The ideological pivot of Chinese culture is Confucianism. This philosophical teaching appeared in the 4th century BC. The founder was legendary wise man Confucius. Time passed, and Confucianism transformed into the dominant religion of the country (in people’s belief interlacing with old myths, Daoism, Buddhism). But telling the truth Confucianism is original religion. The Sky takes God’s place. In the difference to other religions, it’s not anxious with belief questions and sermons about soul’s consolation, the way of life.
If in other faiths God takes the mane place and is beginning of everyone and everything, then in Confucianism morality and manners obligated for observing take God’s central place. The authority of God as the beginning of everything is changed to the authority of highly-respected “god-like” wise men (the main one of whom is Confucius). Morality, manners, customs, traditions, ethics established by these sages are that parts that make “Confucian textbook of life,” or “Confucian Bible. In other words, Confucianism puts moral on the first place and religion on the second. That’s why the subject of religion had never been a big issue for Chinese society, but breaking the morality and not obeying the manners considered to be equal to crime and was widely persecuted and blamed by government and society. It’s widely accepted to think that Confucianism is not a religion but just executes the function of religion, regulating social relationships. It’s not a surprise that Chinese differ by their freedom of religion and atheistic beliefs both educated and common people.
Chinese culture and religious philosophies of Chinese peoples (Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and others) are not widely represented in such multinational country as the USA. Members of Chinese Diaspora mostly preserve features of Chinese culture. Nevertheless, interest to Chinese culture is very high even in such modern society like the USA: Americans have a significant interest to Chinese food, pottery, art, silk and other goods manufactured in China which also represent elements of Chinese culture. In more global scope it may seem that China and the USA are two different worlds, which are culturally isolated from one another. In many respects this statement is true, but we should also take into consideration that both cultures today have modern attributes of western civilization and that much western material and cultural values are also common for China. In contrast to China, the culture of the USA is not based on traditions, but on practical and materialist basement. Today it’s often said that the USA is a society of consumerism and pragmatism. Even though that religion plays quite a considerable role in the life of most Americans today’s, they can not be called the followers of particular religious traditions as some churches in the USA is also modernized. Unlike China and other countries of Eastern civilization, where religion and beliefs form a certain personal code of conduct and are regarded to be the supreme form of spiritual ethics, in the USA as well as in most of the western countries religion and church are regarded to be a traditional form of culture.
Political systems of China and the USA are very different. China political system even though was reformed after the death of Mao, still it preserved all features of the totalitarian state. The political choice of China was very predictable as China is a conservative country, were traditions dominate over new trends especially over social changes. Confucianism, with its ideology of obedience and respect to authorities, played a key role in turning China to the totalitarian state and establishment of existing social hierarchy today. Unlike China, the USA is a democratic state with political pluralism and division of powers. Even though that both Chinese and Americans are very tolerant on the issues which refer to religion, the basic mentality and outlook of these nations are different. These differences defined political and social particularities of both countries. In the consciousness of Americans as well as most of Europeans a central place is devoted to individualism and guarantee of individual’s rights and freedoms, while in the awareness of Chinese (and Asians in general) collectivism is more important.
The political geography of China is very different from political geography of the USA. It’s important to mention that the USA borders with countries, which have relatively similar culture, and similar political systems as Canada, Caribbean, and Mexico appeared nearly at the same time, the USA appeared as a state. China instead borders with countries which have different political systems, different cultural and religious backgrounds and which are populated by diverse ethnic groups. Even China is a state of contrasts: it’s different in the Southwest, North, and West. And these differences do not have just economical character, but also the ethnic and political background. In northern and western part China is populated by different Turk ethnic groups (Pirates, Uygurs, and others) who have a different culture (similar to the most of Central Asian peoples) and who are predominantly Muslims. In the southwestern part, China is populated by people of Tibet, which also differ from the rest of China’s population as the religion of Buddhism strictly regulates their life. It’s a well-known fact that in Tibet and Western provinces of China separatist tendencies are very popular, even though all the attempts to achieve independence or even more extensive autonomy from official Beijing are oppressed. Due to its unique geographic location, Republic of China promotes multi-vector regional policies towards neighboring countries: Russian Federation, India, Vietnam, Korea and states of Central Asia.
China. Wikipedia article. Retrieved October 4, 2006, from Wikipedia.org website:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China
Chinese Cultural Studies: Concise Political History of China. Article. Retrieved October 4, 2006, from City University of New York website:
Geography and map of China, Article. Retrieved October 4, 2006, from About.com website:
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