INTRODUCTION All cultures change through time. No culture is static. However, most cultures are basically conservative in that they tend to resist change. Some resist more than others by enacting laws for the preservation and protection of traditional cultural patterns while putting up barriers to alien ideas and things. For example, the French government has forbidden the commercial use of English words for which there are French equivalencies. This is a reaction particularly to the widespread use and popularity of terms such as "sandwich" and "computer" among young people. More recently, Starbucks has found it very difficult to become established in France despite the fact that it is becoming successful elsewhere in Europe. In contrast, some cultures are extremely open to some kinds of change. Over the last two decades, the Peoples Republic of China has been rapidly adopting western technology and culture in everyday life. This can be seen in their wide acceptance of everything from cell phones to American television shows and fast food. McDonald's has already established 560 of their restaurants in China and soon will be adding 100 more. KFC fried chicken franchises have been even more popular. There are 1000 KFC outlets throughout the country with more than 100 in Beijing alone. Taco Bell, A & W, and Pizza Hut are not far behind. In 2003, the Chinese government made the decision to require all children in their country, beginning with the 3rd grade of elementary school, to learn English. This will very likely accelerate westernization. CHINA'S ECONOMY China's economy is huge and expanding rapidly. In the last 30 years the rate of Chinese economic growth has been almost miraculous, averaging 8% growth in GDP per annum. The economy has grown more than 10 times during that period, with Chinese GDP reaching 3.42 trillion US dollars by 2007. In Purchasing Power Parity GDP, China already has the biggest economy after the United States. Most analysts project China to become the largest economy in the world this century using all measures of GDP. The Chinese economy has experienced rapid growth over the last decade as a result of the de-regulation of trade policies and allowing private businesses to compete with the state owned enterprises (SOE's) Although these new capitalistic policies have been beneficial, they are not implemented throughout the entire Chinese economic sector. At one level, a robust and competitive private sector dominates industries like factory-assembled exports, clothing and food and at higher levels like finance, communications, transportation, mining and metals -- the so-called commanding heights -- the central government claims majority ownership and a measure of management control. THE ISSUES OF CULTURAL DIFFERENCES Most of the people learn about basic good manners and standard acceptable behaviour when they are very young and are taught by their parents, especially their mother. Other good manners are picked up by observation and, for a few, by reading magazine articles or books on approved etiquette. The problem is that good manners and the business etiquette they learn rarely apply in other countries. They might question why it is necessary to bother to learn about another nation's customs and manners, and feel that their normal business etiquette is sufficient. This sounds reasonable, but the proposition can cost them time and money. If they agree with any of the following statements, then they might be undermining their abilities and endangering their success rate. It would be a good idea to rethink their position. "It is unnecessary to bother to learn about another nation's habits, customs and manners; they should behave as I do". "What worked successfully for me in the past in my country will also work well abroad". "My good manners at home will take me anywhere". "Why should I change a winning formula and alter my ways?" Globalisation helps to raise living standards, but it involves more contact between those of different cultures; rather than leading to more tolerance, this increases the opportunity for people to annoy each other. Some individuals may already have a vague grievance against people of a certain nationality, perhaps for historical reasons. Their country might once have been at war with the other or been invaded by it; or at the individual level, possibly they or a friend of theirs was once insulted by one of that people. Others may hold a grudge simply because that country is richer than theirs. Such attitudes make it easy for them to take offence at totally innocent actions or statements by those. Clearly, the more they behave in ways that they deem appropriate, the less they annoy people, the better they fit in and the quicker they can succeed. By learning about a foreign culture people should be able to make friends more easily, negotiate better, sell more goods or services, sign more agreements, achieve higher profits, and generally achieve whatever they want more quickly. At the very least, they will give themselfs an edge over their competitors. Although they need not memorise all the points of advice at once, nor need them follow all of them scrupulously, they can learn some, then add to them over time as they gain experience. CHINESE BEHAVIOR PATTERNS The influence of tradition and Confucius Confucius reigns The ideas and values regarded as Confucian are still of paramount importance when trying to understand Chinese behaviour. Confucius (sixth to fifth century BC) wanted a political system where the emphasis was on properly ordered social relationships in society. Society was seen as pyramid shaped, with a paramount ruler at the top (the Emperor), a variety of officials administering the country in the middle, and families at the bottom. If everyone behaved properly one to another, then government would be stable, society would be well run, general harmony would prevail, and the nation would be prosperous and at peace. In this Confucian system, the family played a central role. The male head of the family was responsible for the behaviour of the entire family and he, or in extreme cases the entire family, could be punished if a member of it committed a crime. Within the family, each person had a clearly defined relationship to the others and a person's identity was in part established by his or her role within the group. Members were addressed as "Elder Daughter", or "Younger Brother" rather than by name, reinforcing the relationships. Anyone totally alone and without a family was generally pitied, while the state regarded them carefully and cautiously, as did people in general. The values of the Confucian system are still strong, although the training under communism and the modernisation now occurring has weakened them a little.
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