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Social Values in China

Could you tell me some brief introduction about Confucianism in China?

The Confucius, who lived 2,500 years ago, largely shaped the modern mentality and culture of the Chinese people and society. Confucianism is not so much a religion as it is a code for social conduct. The basic principles of Confucian thought are obedience to and respect for superiors and parents, duty to family, loyalty to friends, humility, sincerity and courtesy.

 

What is the Chinese attitude towards family according to Confucianism?

The family is the pre-eminent institution in China. One's first duty is to the welfare of one's family, and working family members often pool their financial resources. In many ways, Chinese view themselves more as parts of the family unit than as free individuals. Grown children often live with their parents, even if they are married, and have a duty to support them in old age.

 

It is said that Chinese are the most courteous people toward their friends, is it right?

Yes. Confucianism honors humility and courtesy. Chinese are seldom overly boastful or self-satisfied, even if their achievements are splendid. When Chinese are being polite, they can be excessively self-deprecating. Chinese are among the most courteous people in the world toward their friends. Every detail of a guest's stay with a Chinese friend may be prearranged, and the guest may not be allowed to spend money on even the smallest items. For Western individualists, this form of courtesy may be overwhelming.

 

What ways may cause Chinese to lose face, and what ways can save their face?

The easiest way to cause someone to lose face is to insult the individual or to criticize him or her in front of others. Westerners can offend Chinese unintentionally by making fun of them in the good-natured way that is common among friends in the West. Another way to cause someone to lose face is to treat him or her as a junior when his or her official status in an organization is high. People must always be treated with proper respect. Failure to do so makes them and the offender lose face for all others aware of the situation. But just as face can be lost, it can also be given by praising someone for good work in front of peers or superiors or by thanking someone for doing a good job. Giving someone face earns respect and loyalty, and it should be done whenever the situation warrants. However, it is not a good idea to praise others too much, as it can make you appear to be insincere. You can also save someone's face by helping him to avoid an embarrassing situation. For example, in playing a game you can allow your opponent to win even if you are clearly the better player. The person whose face you save will not forget the favor, and he will be in your debt.

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