Coming to China? - Some Comparisons of American and Chinese Cultures

This is a short list of some cultural differences between China and the US. It is meant as some informational observations of Chinese life as compared to life in America

Some Differences Between China and the US

I have always told my friends that there are so many things that are different between China and the US that you could write a book on it. But when it comes right down to it, an article seems to fit the bill a lot better because you can get to the point without minute analysis.  One thing that strikes the visitor to China from the US is the lack of guns. There are no guns as far as I can see. No rifles for hunting in and around the cities, no handguns for protection or target practice, and no guns for crime. Violent crime or crime utilizing guns in China is almost non-existent. There is very little arable land for hunting; it is almost always used for farming or some other peaceful activity. You don’t need guns for protection here because no one else has them except the police and the army. Those who violate gun laws in China are harshly treated, and rightfully so. There are no plea bargains or reduced sentences for gun violations. In many cases, the death penalty is imposed for crimes that in the US would be given much less severe sentences. The vast majority of population of China is fine with the severe sentences for gun-related crimes. They are proud of their harmonious and well-ordered society, and severe laws regarding possession or use of guns keeps it that way.

The US, on the other hand, enjoys misinterpreting the second amendment to the constitution which allows citizens to bear arms, but, of course, even a high school student knows that this refers to the right to form a militia to defend yourself (something that is no longer needed by the average citizen because we have massive armies and national reserves). It does not guarantee guns for hunting, target practice or collection. Are these activities worth the high level of crime we have in every American city? I think not. Whatever happened to majority rule? If Americans on the internet were allowed to vote on the issue, I guarantee you that all guns would be outlawed just like China does. So in that instance, the gun lobby of America overrides the so-called democratic process. Chinese consider the US a violent, gun-dependent environment which is very dangerous to live in, but they forego the violence in America to attempt to make as much money there as they can. They recognize that America is a good place to get an education for their children, but they often fear for the safety of their children while they are being educated in America.

Let’s move from guns to meat. America has far better meat than China and lots more of it. The beef and chicken in China is of an inferior quality and is often sold without refrigeration or a freezer. The Chinese like to explain this away by saying they like their beef and chicken (as well as their pork and fish) fresh because they prepare the meat the same day for a fresh meal. For the most part, this is true. Many Chinese purchase their meats early in the morning in the massive market places all over the country, prepare their meals with them for lunch and or supper and there is no problem with that. The problem comes in when the suppliers do not refrigerate the meats properly or do not sell their entire inventories in one day. Meats of all kinds are sometimes left out on tables for over twenty-four hours to be sold the next morning to unsuspecting customers. Many of the meat merchants cannot afford refrigerators or freezers for their meats and there is very little inspection or law enforcement in food protection within China. Of course, violators are dealt with harshly if they are found to cause any health problem for the public. Some are even executed such as those responsible for the death of babies drinking their tainted powdered milk. There are no tears shed for those who violate the public trust in this matter in China. In the US, these same criminals would, at worst, be handed a first-offense sentence in our overly-indulgent court system. Again, if you tallied votes from American citizens on this issue, I am sure they with agree with their Chinese counterparts for the most severe penalties, but the lawyer lobby in the US would lose several clients that way, so they make sure that the lawyers and the courts control justice and not the citizens of the country. It is fairly dubious that the constitution intended that to happen, either.

But ultimately, the US is far superior to China in all forms of refrigeration of meats and its inspection system is far more organized. To be fair, enforcement of the law is far more evident in the US than it is in China when it comes to food and many other non-violent legal issues. The problem in the US system does not come with inspection and enforcement; it comes with punishment for violations via the court system. Technologically, the US is still far ahead of China when it comes to the processing and refrigeration of meats. This ultimately provides for a safer and healthier meat food supply. In addition, US meats are more tender, juicier, and in much greater supply than the meats available in China. The downside to all of this is that meat, as enjoyable as it is (and I love it), is just not as healthy as seafood, fruits and vegetables which are greater staples within the Chinese diet than there are in the US. This is also an excuse that the Chinese government gives its citizens for the limited supply of high-quality meats in China. So if you are a meat-lover, China is not a very good place for you to be.

Breads, fruits and vegetables in China are a mixed bag. The bread in China is terrible. It is that light, puffy cheap bread that you find in many chain markets in the US like Publix. It is cheap, but ultimately unsatisfying. Heavier, crisp bread is far more available in the US in bakeries and places like Panera Bread and Atlanta Bread companies. There are no such places in China. Chinese bakeries are far more concerned with the appearance of the bread or pastry rather than the ingredients or taste of the bread or pastry. Their pastries are far more creative than US pastries, but they are all light, fat-free and sugar-free. So if you like sugar and fat- free pastries, then China will be heaven for you.

Fruits in China are much less expensive than they are in the US. Almost every food in China is far less expensive than it is in the US. You can still get a pound of organic tomatoes in China for less than fifty cents which would impossible in the US. The US pushes their processed tomatoes that are tasteless and charges extra for so-called organic tomatoes. All organic fruits and vegetables are now more expensive in the US; some of them are ridiculously priced, also. The same fruits and vegetables we used to commonly eat in the 1950s and 1960s and now sold as “organic specialties” which will run you as much as fifty per cent more than processed fruits and vegetables. Who voted for this? Not the American public. Again, if there were an internet referendum on fruits and vegetables, you might see Americans vote to outlaw processed or synthetic foods, or at the very least, to return to the organic days of the 50s and 60s. There is a lot of outrage out there in the American public that the government constantly ignores. All this being said, the quality of American fruits and vegetables is still higher than that of Chinese produce. The fruits in the US are juicer and sweeter and in more abundance. The only abundance of fruits and vegetables in China are those of an inferior quality, but they are quite inexpensive and still very healthy for you. Some other things we take for granted that the Chinese do not have in abundance: hot running water that does not turn cold after a few minutes, freezers and refrigerators that can easily be controlled , stop signs, cops enforcing highway and other driving violations, good cuts of meat (oops, already mentioned that), unfettered internet service, Facebook, Twitter, various undesirable web sites, butter, olive oil, sugar, rich bakery goods, bacon, cold cuts, most salads, Miracle Whip, real ice cream, large clothes, comfortable shoes, true protection- free international products, clean air (except for Fujian, Hainan, Southwestern and Northwestern China), a safe reliable food supply, poker, recognizable team sports, and your privacy.

Things that the Chinese take for granted that we do not have in the US include: lower prices for just about everything, not having the IRS, Selective Service, a higher literacy rate, two hour lunches/naps from 12 to 2 (the country is virtually CLOSED from 12-2), a healthier diet, faster government response to emergencies and disasters, faster government response to economic problems, pretty much faster government response to anything because Washington is almost completely broken, extremely low crime rate, no guns and therefore far fewer violent crimes, no parking tickets, no speeding tickets (within reason), and no interference from department chairs for teachers or professors.

So, as you can see, things pretty much seem to balance out.


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