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What can Foreigners Working in China Learn from the Chinese Culture?

Our world is very diverse. Every person who comes to the foreign country faces with the problems connected with difference of cultures. It is important to know about the customs, religion, and mentality of the citizens of the country. Despite the fact that China and India are both Asian countries, there are a lot of differences in their cultures, and Indians working in China should know them. This paper aims to show the differences and similarities between Chinese and Indian cultures. 


Numerous peoples inhabiting China have their own history, way of life and culture. The modern Chinese cities become more and more alike European ones, however in the rural areas there are still a lot of peculiar, inherited from the ancient times.  For instance, the home of the Chinese peasant in northeastern China is the skeleton-pile building of a small size with an entrance and windows in the facade wall, always facing south. To the north is a blank wall which protects the building from the cold winds. There were a lot of peasants living in such houses not long ago.

The modern Chinese house is a three-room building with the entrance in the middle. The kitchen is situated at the entry, and the rooms are placed in the western and eastern parts of the house, connected by the kitchen. It usually includes earth floor and entrance-door with windows on the façade facing south.

From Manchurian northern Chinese adopted kang, which is a wide brick or clay bed heated with the heat of the kitchen stove. At the foot of the bed on the different levels horizontal chimney holes are built-in. The hot air moving through them heats kang and goes out through the lying outdoor flue. The members of the Chinese family spend a lot of time on kang, sleeping, eating, working, and relaxing. Small children also play on it. 

Indian houses could be hardly confused with the houses of other countries. There is usually a central room in them, from which one can get to the other rooms. This room is used for gathering the whole family in it or entertaining guests there. Usually there are sofas with numerous pillows, armchairs, a long tea-table and a carpet. The other rooms are bedrooms of the members of the family. Beds in India are used for sleeping, eating, and communicating with guests on them. There are also many vases, statuettes, and crockery. Indian houses have different number of floors, but they always have roofs where Indians enjoy themselves, communicate and sleep. 



Despite the destructive effect of time, wars, and changes in ideology, the architecture in China is in fair preservation. The remains are preserved in the imperial buildings of Beijing, colonial buildings of Shanghai, in different villages, Buddhist, Confucian, and Thai temples. 

The whole variety of Indian national culture is presented in architecture and expressed in Indian landmarks. A mix of Indian ancient traditions and traditions of the other countries are expressed in the brilliancy of monuments, temples, and monasteries.   The Indian architecture gathered the history of the world in it. Every Indian landmark is valuable, but it is hard to visit all of them. However, there are some magic places, which people are to visit. They are Taj Mahal, the Red Fort in Dehli, Humayun’s Tomb, Kailasa Temple, Ellora Temple, the Golden Temple in Amristar.


Wedding rituals in China are different everywhere, but very original. For instance, in Sichuan Province on the South-West of China there is a strange requirement for a bride. During and before the wedding she has to sob, even if she is happy.

Wedding in India presupposes the presence of bright colors. All the participants of it wear fancy costumes. A bride usually chooses traditional colors of costumes, which are red and gold. Hands and legs are ornamented with designs using henna. Traditionally, the wedding is organized by the parents. They choose the possible candidates for their son or daughter in special marriage agencies, according to their social status, caste, and horoscope.

Attitude to Death

Death of people in China is not a deep grief.  According to the popular belief, the death does not break the connection between soul of the late with his/her relatives. The soul in the other world continues taking part in economic and ceremonial lives of the family, helps to protect from the evil spirits, intercedes for all the members of the family with the Lord. The mournful color in China is white. People dressed in white canvas clothes take out the white coffin through the white gates on the third day after death. Mourning for the parents continues 25 months, for the other relatives – from 12 to 13 months. During the days of mourning and commemoration it is considered indecent to go to the cinema, theatre, arrange weddings, set to a new deal. 

Indians do not afraid of death, and it is not a grief for them too. It is rather happiness and the same kind of phenomena as wind or rain. Every Indian believes that death is only a transition of the soul from one layer of reality to another plane of existence.

National Symbol

Chinese respect tigers the most of all animals. It is a symbol of love and welfare, power and strength. From time immemorial people compare the most prominent persons with a tiger. When Chinese wants to say that a child is beautiful, he/she says that he/she looks like a tiger’s head. There is even a separate tiger style in calligraphy, and tiger gymnastics in the folk medicine. 

The national animal of India is also tiger. Tiger symbolizes power, strength, grace, agility, mind, endurance of the Indian nation. They are protected by the state, that is why a half of all tigers around the world live there. 


The Chinese cuisine has its centuries-old traditions. It is famous for its rich assortment and for the high professional cooks’ skills. According to the old Chinese proverb, there is nothing uneatable in the world, there are bad cooks.

The Chinese cuisine is very popular, very diverse, and is not for squeamish. The Chinese say that they eat everything which has four legs, except tables. The Chinese cuisine is presented in gourmet meals made of a limited number of ingredients. Tea is one of the most widespread non-alcohol drinks, while beer is still the most popular alcoholic one. The word “wine” has a lot of meanings in China beginning with drinks infused with different herbs, and ending with sake and wine with lizards, bees and marinated snakes. The main alcoholic drink in China is sake (rice wine). One more favorite drink is maotai, produced from sorghum, and has a smell of a rubbing alcohol.

Asia is very ceremonial, that is why toasts are acceptable, but clinking glasses is not obligatory. But if they clink glasses, they follow the old rule. The younger should clink the lower part of the elder’s glass with the upper part of his/her glass, showing respect to the elder. The person, who fills glasses should fill them to the brims, otherwise it will be regarded as disrespect. 

The Chinese culture is closely connected not only with its history, but also with their everyday life, particularly with their national and family holidays. They cook Tangyuan (boiled big white moonlike sweet balls made from glutinous rice flour) on the full-moon days and long noodles as a symbol of long life on birthdays. Every season has its special dishes, every Chinese province has its own cuisine, and every town and district have their cooking schools. Food is more than just a hunger satisfying for Chinese people, it is like a ritual. The art of cooking in China is not like in any other country, it is a part of the culture of the old Chinese nation. 

Indian cuisine mainly consists of vegetarian dishes made from beans and vegetables seasoned with traditional spices, mainly with karri. One more traditional dish is Thali (rice served with spices and a crumpet). The national first course is Dhal (a soup made from beans). The prominent Indian dessert is Vatillapam. Beef is forbidden in India, because a cow is a holy animal. Beginning with ruling of Buddhist king Ashoka, meat dishes became alien to Indians.  However, under the influence of Islam meat began to turn back to Indians’ rations. 

Indians rarely drink alcohol, that is why Indian national drink is masala chai, but not rum or beer. It is offered to every guest in every house, café or shop. Masala-chai is made of a black tea, milk and spices (mainly ginger.) Every Indian can make it, but the ways of making may be different.

Communication style

The way Chinese people communicate is also peculiar. If one person meats another one, they should show each other their great esteem. They should let each other know, that he/she is a well-developed and educated person, even if they clearly understand, that it is totally untrue.

Indians are very communicative, and style of their communication resembles exchange of pleasantries. However, they clearly know what they want and can achieve their aim. During business meetings they usually speak English. The Indian style of communication is directed to winning the favor of the participants of the conversation and to know more about them. Indians also try to know their point of view. Their reaction to different proposals is usually positive and allows some concessions.


The Chinese literary heritage is huge, but unfortunately it is difficult to translate the content of the majority of books, which makes them inaccessible for the Western readers. Traditionally, there are two forms of narration, classical (mainly Confucianism) and folk (e.g. “Epopee of the Ming dynasty”). There are almost 16 million books preserved in the Beijing National library, and also imperial collections of the Southern Song dynasty (13th century), Ming (1368-1644), and Qin (1644-1912). The central library of the Academy of Sciences in PRC has more than 5 million books, including literature in foreign languages. The imperial palace in Beijing has also a huge collection of outstanding literary works of all periods of Chinese history. There is at least one cultural center in every urban district, which has a little library, a reading room, and a conference room, where performances, musical concerts, lections, different exhibitions are held. 

Thanks to the Indian literature millions of people who have never been to India have a possibility to learn about the life of Indian nation. The development of literature in India totally reflects the development of Indian society. It exists more than 3.5 thousand years. The earliest literary works were Veda, collections of hymns and ritual chants of Indo-Aryan peoples. The greatest literary works are epic poems Mahabharta and Ramayan.

Traditional Crafts

The pottery in China belongs to the ancient forms of art and is very popular profession there. The world's first porcelain production was launched by Chinese in the 6th century AD, reaching its peak during the reign of Dynasty Xian.

India is famous for its jewelry, statuettes, textile, and works made of stone, metal, wood, and paper. Every Indian State has its own unique handicraft. The handicrafts may be bought in souvenir shops, state or private shops. There are even Crafts Villages where citizens are busy crafting different traditional souvenirs.


The art of penmanship is traditionally considered to be the highest form of a fine art in China. One even can judge on the character of a person by the elegance of his/her handwriting. The art of a decorative penmanship can be found everywhere in China – in the temples, on the walls of the caves, on the slopes of the mountains, and monuments. The basic instruments for penmanship are brush and ink, which are also used for the traditional China painting.

Indian dance is one of the main Indian properties. This art appeared 5000 years ago. Shiva is considered to be its patron. All Indian dancers worship Shiva for giving humanity a possibility to feel one’s soul filling with the Holy Spirit.  Thanks to dancing, Indians spiritually perfect themselves, develop esthetic feelings and mind, body flexibility and artistry.

Many western cinema connoisseurs are Chinese cinema lovers. Chinese films have a great success abroad, they also win a lot of feature film festivals in Europe, introducing Chinese culture. Over the past two decades China has become a center of a film production. Such films as “Farewell My Concubine”, “In the Mood for Love”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Infernal Affairs”, “Suzhou River”, “Roadhome”, and “House of flying daggers”, are watched and adored in the whole world. In 1990s three famous film directors Chen Kaige, Zhang Yimou, and Tian Zhuangzhuang shot epochal films, directly connected with the events of “cultural revolution”. 

Indian cinematography is widely known. The country produces more than 1 thousand films per year. Indian cinema is divided into two branches. The first is creative, presented by such film directors as Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen. Indian films usually involve the mix of songs, dances, car pursuits, and fights.  


One of the main holidays in China is Spring Festival, which is also called Chinese New Year. The national holiday in China is the National Day of The People’s Republic of China celebrated on October, 1. One more important holiday for the Chinese people is the May Day Holiday, which is the day of a working class.  

India is a multi-national and multicultural country that is why holidays of different religious are celebrated there. Despite religious holidays there are three official national holidays: The Independence Day, Republic Day, and Gandhi Jayanti. Despite these holidays, there are holidays based on religion. Hindu holidays are Divali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Holi, Ugadi, Durga Puja, and Makar Sankranti. Muslim holidays are Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Muharram and Ramadan. It should be mentioned that different states and tribes have their own festivals and holidays.


To sum up all the above said, it is necessary to mention that both Indian and Chinese cultures were formed under the influence of different countries and cultures. Despite numerous wars and destructions, the Chinese culture did not become weaker, vice versa it overcame the influence of conquerors’ cultures. The works of architecture, sculpture, painting and crafts are the priceless cultural heritage of China. However, Indian culture was greatly influenced by the other cultures and absorbed the elements of cultures and religions of the whole continent. That is why a lot of different religions, languages, forms of art, and cuisines are concentrated on its territory. Indian people working in China may be confronted with different Chinese cultural peculiarities, which are alien for them, such as the ways of celebrating holidays, differences in cuisines, styles of communication, and others. 

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