Han Chinese 91.5%, Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uyghur, Tujia, Yi, Mongol, Tibetan, Buyi, Dong, Yao, Korean, and other nationalities 8.5% (2000 census)
White 92%, Asian 7%, Aboriginal and other 1%
US 21%, Hong Kong 16%, Japan 9.5%, South Korea 4.6%, Germany 4.2% (2006)
Japan 19.6%, China 12.3%, South Korea 7.5%, US 6.2%, India 5.5%, NZ 5.5%, UK 5% (2006)
From CIA World Fact Book
Nomadic homanids roamed China for around 850,000 years. Around 5,000 years ago, a group settled down to become farmers. For the Chinese, the commencement of farming is marked as the beginning of the Chinese civilisation.
Between 221 and 210 BC, China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, invaded neighbouring kingdoms, unified the country, standardised the writing system, and built the first Great Wall. Over the next 2,000 years, China was invaded and ruled by neighbouring minorities, including Mongolians and Manchus, who in turn expanded Chinese territory.
In 1911, the last emperor of China fell. In the chaos of the subsequent years, provinces such as Tibet and Xijiang declared independence and sections of China became ruled by foreign powers. Social disharmony gave rise to a Communist rebellion that joined with the Nationalists to expel foreign invaders. After defeating the foreigners, the Communists defeated the Nationalists. For the first time in almost 500 years, the majority Han people were again in control of China.
In 1966, the Communists commenced the Cultural Revolution that aimed to purge China of the old customs, old culture, old habits and old ideas of their former masters. Religion and traditional culture was banned as Communism was elevated as the sole identity to unite all of the diverse people of China.
The progressive ideas left China in ruins. In 1979, the Communists commenced undoing the damage caused by their progressive ideals. Foreigners were welcomed back, and respect was given to China's heritage- both Han and minority.
Although Australia's history is quite different to China's, it has produced some modern day commonalities. For 50,000 years, nomadic humans roamed Australia. They probably never built cities because Australia lacked a high yeild agricultural crop to build a civilisation around.
Between the 15th and 17th centuries, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, Indonesian and Spanish reached Australia, took a look around and then kept sailing. In the 18th century, the English arrived, took a look around and decided Australia would make a great place to punish criminals. For the next 80 years, England dumped its Convicts in Australia.
The type of criminals dumped in Australia were very similar to the type of people that supported Chairman Mao in the Communist uprising. They were political rebels, communists and the poor who lacked food to eat. They also found themselves alienated from an elitiest class that treated them with contempt. Just as they did in China, the left-wingers of Australia responded by championing progressive ideals in the belief that equality could only be achieved via the destruction of the past. However, they were never able to fully enforce their ideals because he British had implemented a parliamentary system that diversified power and forced community consultation. The result was a system of government that addressed some of the problems that led to communist rebellions without suffering the damage caused by communist rebellions. This unique mix was noted by Vladimir Lenin, the father of the Russian revolution. Lenin said of Australia:
sort or peculiar capitalist country is this in which the workers' representatives
predominate in the upper house....and yet the capitalist system is in no danger?"
Today, the Chinese have reacted to their history of civil conflict by deciding intellectual unity and consolidated power is the best way to achieve social harmony. Furthermore, they believe that pride in history and culture is one way to achieve unity. Australia is quite different. In Australia, there are still left-wingers that want to attack old ideas, deconstruct culture, consolidate power and work through government to enforce their agendas. They are not able to fully implement their agendas because Australia has so much intellectual diversity that would-be revolutionaries can't get their fellow Australians to unite on anything. The inability to get united has prevented Australians from joining campaigns that could lead to violent conduct in the streets, the break up of their country or even independence from Britain. On the other hand, China still suffers such threats. Because Chinese have been conditioned to obey and always support China, when rumours circulate, they are believed without question leading to vigilantes fighting to protect China.
Ironically, the Communist desire to keep China united to ward off the threat of a revolution is also one of the reasons why it is far more threatened by one that is Australia.
Contrary to misconception, China is not run by a dictator. It is basically run by one huge public service. Like the Australian public service, promotions are awarded by pleasing those with more power, rather than achieving results or engaging with the general public. Like the Australian public service, complaints from the general public are useless because the public is irrelevant to the self-interests of the people within the bureaucracy. Like the Australian public service, a blind eye is often turned to corruption.
The Chinese Communist Party is basically what the Australian public service would be if it didn’t have to answer to a government that could change every three years. In Australia, the change of government allows the public service to be subjected to some form of accountability, which limits the kind of problems that develop in all public services.
Guanxi is a Chinese word that refers to the benefits that can be derived from social relationships. In hospitals, patients give doctors “red packets” of money to gain good service. Criminals use social relationships to avoid being brought to justice. Idiots get jobs because of who they know. Although the same thing might happen in Australia, if the social favouritism is outside the law, the law wins. In China, guanxi overrides laws.
Aside from being more important than the law, another unique fact about Chinese guanxi is that it exists in all levels of Chinese society. For example, Chinese restaurant owners must maintain good relationships with police, health inspectors, fire inspectors as well as suppliers. This can be by supplying free food or offering jobs to relatives of influential people.The need to keep such people happy shows just how diversified power is in China. Even powerful Chinese figures are not always sure if the person they are dealing with has a good social network that could counter their power. Ironically, the lack of certainty about who has power can actually reduce conflict or increase the liklihood of giving face to others. No one with power wants conflict because the conflict weakens them, as does calling in favours to win the conflict.
In Australia, the enforcement of laws make social relationships less important. As a result, powerful people in Australia only try to maintain good relationships with government or the media. There is really no need to maintain good relations with the police or health inspectors like is the case in China.
Most Chinese dislike guanxi holding such importance. It is stressful to maintain the relationships, is not fair and harms China's development. Nevertheless, they must conform to its operation otherwise they lack power. They almost feel like an Adam-Smith-style invisable hand is contolling them, and there is nothing they can do to change the situation.
Government officials also recognise the problems caused by guanxi. They want China to develop and they appreciate that guanxi hinders development. Every now and then corrupt officials are executed to try to serve as a warning to others but changing the culture of 1.3 billion people is not so easy. Furthermore, people with good guanxi have a great deal of individual power that they do not want to give up.
Yao Lu takes photos of rubbish tips and building sites and uses photoshop to make them resemble a traditional Chinese painting.
Art – painting
Traditional Chinese painting uses ink on paper, which leaves no room for error. A nearly complete painting may be ruined in a matter of seconds by an excess application of ink that runs and blurs. When such a mistake occurs, there is no way of painting over the top to remedy the error.
Because the use of Chinese ink requires great mastery of brush use, it is quite easy to understand why Chinese art changed little over the centuries. Once the apprentice has learned from the master, the brush is passed on and the tradition continues. Wu Chen’s paintings completed in the 13th century would not look out of place in an exhibition of contemporary ink artists.
Although many modern Chinese painters still use ink, others use oils. While the medium has changed, they show the influence of their tradition by maintaining very advanced skills in the use of brush strokes and colour mixing. They use these skills to explore political concepts that appeal to westerners. Most of the themes involve pairing two incongruent ideas. For example, Chairman Mao might be depicted in a Nike shirt. The paintings generate the same kind of feeling that might be provoked by seeing a Starbucks coffee house in the Forbidden City (the old home of the Chinese emperor.) Because the ideas don't match, the viewer is forced to reflect upon the contradiction.
Yue Minjun is arguably China’s most famous contemporary artist. Based in Beijing, Yue paints himself with a happy face in a variety of incongruent situations, such as Tiananmen Square 1989. For his western customers, Yue is a dissident who expresses his dissent via sarcastic conformity. By "fooling" China's rulers, Yue can protest without being taken away and shot.
Yue Minjun - Execution
While westerners see him as a dissident, most Chinese see Yue as a clever man who has made a lot of money by giving westerners what they want.
John Spooner - Kevin Rudd's intervention in Aboriginal communities
Australia’s newspaper cartoonists create art that has some similar elements to the contemporary Chinese artists. They take a political issue and either demonstrate the inconsistencies in a visual manner or try to represent the issue in visual manner. The intention is to mock the issue, provoke thought on the issue, or help readers understand the issue.
Pro Hart - Grasshopper
In regards to painting, contemporary Australian art is quite different to contemporary Chinese art in that most of the successful Australian artists since World War 2 never went to art school. These artists include Albert Tucker, Pro Hart, Arthur Boyd, Clifford Possum, Russel Drysdale, Clifford Possum, Albert Namatjira, Sidney Nolan, and Anatjari Tjakamarra among many others. Landscape and identity seems to be one of the most favoured topics.
Traditional Chinese poetry blends environmental imagery with beautiful verse to create an emotional aesthetic. Unlike English poetry, traditional Chinese poetry doesn't have much obscurity and its purpose isn't to provoke thought. Consequently, when translated into English, the poems lose their emotional aesthetic in a way that leaves them sounding a bit silly. For example, the ancient poem:
Guan guan jiu he zhi zhou
Yao tiao shu nu jun zi hao qiu
Guan! Guan! Cry the fish hawks, on sandbars in the river.
A mild-mannered good girl, fine match for the gentleman.
On the whole, most Australian poetry subscribes to the English tradition of retaining some obscure elements and/or telling an inspiring story. In the 19th century and early 20th century, Australians such as Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson used poetry to tell emotionally appealing stories that encouraged national pride. Kenneth Slessor used poetry to capture the melancholic feelings of war. In his most famous poem, Five Bells, Slessor applied the melancholic feelings to peace time when he wrote about a friend who drowned in Sydney Harbour. Arguably, A.D Hope was Australia's most psychologically challenging and technically skilled poet. Hope used regimented rhyming structures to push readers towards the edges of the mind.
The Road Home
Art-house Chinese movies are a bit like Chinese poetry in that they are more concerned with an emotional aesthetic than with a complex story or even character development. In the Mood for Love (2000) deals with the sexual tension between a man and a woman whose respective spouses have run off with each other. The Road Home (1999) deals with a son coming home to organise his father's funeral, and then telling the story of his parents falling in love. Help Me Eros (2003) revolves around three characters living on the edges of respectable society; a recently fired stockbroker in financial ruin, a fat woman married to a homosexual man, and a provocatively dressed betel nut girl.
In the 1970s, Australia produced some decent art-house movies. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) explored restrained English customs breaking down in the Australian wilderness. Gallipoli (1981) contrasted the various motivations of Australians to fight in World War 1, and their ultimate loss of innocence in a tragic battle.
Chinese classrooms are teacher focussed while Australian classrooms are more student focussed. In more simple terms, a Chinese teacher is more likely to deliver the answer whereas an Australian teacher is more likely to give students some basic knowledge and subsequently expect them to do something with it. Furthermore, whereas Chinese classes don't have a great deal of interaction between students, Australian classes do.
Although the teaching styles are expressed in all classes, it is the physical education classes where the differences are most salient. In China, it is common to have a teacher standing in front of students demonstrating a skill. The students then copy it. In Australia; however, teachers usually aren't involved in the activity itself. Like a coach of a football team, they design exercises that develop skills and subsequently tell students to do them. Students learn by doing, by interacting with other students, and by their own initiative. The teacher is more of a facilitator than an instructor.
Arguably, the differences in teaching styles originate from language differences. The pictorial writing systems of China can only be taught via teacher instruction followed by student repetition. On the other hand, Australian students only need to learn the 26 characters of the alphabet. Once they are mastered, teachers need to instruct students in grammar.
There are strengths and weaknesses of each approach. The Chinese approach encourages people to learn from others. This approach can cause problems when others say silly things, such as the myth that the Great Wall of China can be seen from the moon. In such circumstances, silly ideas can be written in textbooks, taught by teachers and accepted without question by students. The students then make a fool of themselves by telling foreigners the Great Wall of China can be seen from the moon. The Australian approach encourages individuals to express their ideas even if they are in contradiction to established thought.
Although few Chinese want to disrespect their country or be inconsiderate, most don't consider throwing rubbish to be a signs of disrespect or inconsideration. The Chinese embassy in Canberra is the only embassy that has had to put a bin at its front gate to encourage its citizens to put rubbish where it should go.
The Chinese government is concerned that social activism could lead to the break up of China or civil conflict that would decrease the quality of life for all Chinese. To reduce the risk, the Chinese education system discourages independent thinking or a plurality of views. The Chinese believe that an absence of intellectual diversity and a love of China will keep Chinese united. Government can then rely on reasoned experts to form policy direction.
The goal for intellectual unity has led to a few problems. The first problem is that it has increased the chances of the very social disharmony that it aims to avoid. Because Chinese are socially conditioned to follow, when an unsanctioned activist campaign breaks out, many Chinese follow it without any scrutiny of its goals or the logic behind it. For example, in 2008, Chinese reacted to seeing some French protesting the Olympic Torch in Paris by protesting the French supermarket chain of Carrefour in China. Also in 2008, after a Chinese woman was found dead following "associations" with three South Koreans, Chinese commenced a campaign against South Korea as a whole. Although a police investigation concluded that the woman had committed suicide, this explanation was not believed once the activism campaign had begun. In 2009, a rumour developed amongst Han Chinese in the province of Xinjiang that Uigurs had raped Han Chinese women. The rumour spread without question and led to Han attacks on Uigurs, who retaliated, which in turn led to a government crackdown. Each year, China suffers thousands of protests that spontaneously break out and are supported without scrutiny.
The second problem of top-down intellectual unity is that it discourages individual Chinese from taking the initiative to solve some of the problems in the immediate world around them. While Chinese support protests, they don't feel empowered to solve problems. For example, if a Chinese person sees all his neighbours throwing rubbish on the ground, he or she is unlikely to take the lead and try to educate his neighbours to change their ways. Instead, he or she will wait for the government to act. If the government has other priorities, nothing gets done. Even if the government acts, top-down activism often fails to generate the sense of grassroot ownership that increases the chances of success.
In Australia, a diversity of opinions has made it very unlikely that Australia could ever break up. It is just impossible to imagine an Australian standing before a crowd and rallying the majority of the population behind them. Even becoming a republic has proved problematic. In 1999, polls showed that 90 per cent of Australians were in favour of a republic. However, proponents of the republic just couldn’t get agreement on the model and the no vote prevailed. Ironically, failure to persuade the wider community has made many social activists work through government to forcibly implement their activism goals on a unwilling community.
Encouraging a diversity of views has also resulted in Australians having more initiative to solve problems. Sometimes, the initiatives lead to improvements in Australian society, such as Clean Up Australia Day. At other times, the initiatives are ill conceived, stupid and quickly labelled as such. The ill-conceived campaigns then die out before they can lead to the same kind of damage seen in China's ill-conceived campaigns such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
Sink or swim
Chinese tend to be very respectful people who want people to teach them how to do things. For example, if they want to learn how to paint, they seek an expert to teach them. If they want to learn how to swim, they may seek a professional instructor. Australia is different. In Australia, it is more likely that parents will teach their kids to swim by putting some floaties on their arm and throwing them in the water. Likewise, an Australian may learn to paint by picking up some paint brushes and learn by doing. Australians tend to have an attitude of "she'll be right." Even if they don't know how to do something, by trying it they think everything will turn out ok.
The Chinese desire to learn from an expert reflects a respectful culture built up over 5,000 years of civilisation. Because China changed relatively little in the 5,000 years, one generation tried to acquire the refined skills and knowledge of those who had gone before.
Australians are less respectful of expert opinion because Australian experts have always been outdated quickly. In the last 220 years, Australia has changed more than China has in 5,000 years. Consequently, one generation simply hasn't had much to teach the next generation. For example, the hunter gatherers that roamed the land had little to teach colonists that lived in cities and/or farmed. The criminals that populated Australia in its first 50 years didn't have that much to teach the miners that flooded into Australia in its second 50 years. In turn, these people had little to teach Australians of the third 50 years, who dealt with a closed immigration policy, depression and world wars. In turn, these people had little to teach Australians living from 1950s to 2,000 that dealt with a change in immigration policy. In turn, these have little to teach the post-2,000 generation who are dealing with Asian integration, globalisation and the internet.
To compound matters, the lecturers and teachers from the 1950s to 2,000 grew up in a culture that celebrated rebelling against those who had gone before. In turn, they have passed that ideology onto their students, who have implemented it by thinking their teachers and lecturers are outdated. For example, in 2007, Australian Joanna Murray-Smith wrote a play attacking 70s feminist icon Germaine Greer. After hearing about the play, Ms Greer referred to Ms Murray-Smith as an "insane reactionary." Ms Murray-Smith then replied,
"There are many fallibilities among the women of Germaine's generation."
Attitude to history
If attitude to history can be divided into the "three cheers" approach, and the "black-armband approach" then China is very much the three cheers, while Australia is very much the black-arm band.
The Chinese take a positive view of history because their primary aim is social harmony. For example, the Chinese celebrate Chairman Mao as a great hero that encouraged Chinese to stand up against foreign invaders. The individual members of the Communist Party that came to power after Mao's death were not ignorant to the damage caused by the Great Leap Forward or the Cultural Revolution. Furthermore, they were Mao's enemies. Despite experiencing first hand the damage caused by Mao's policies, they preserved the positive myth of Chairman Mao because the alternative would have been to continue the civil strife of the Cultural Revolution. In 2008, the official policy of the Communist Party was that Mao was 70 per cent good and 30 per cent bad.
Buddha statues in Datong with drill holes. Tour guides say the holes were drilled so special chemicals could be put in the rock to strengthen it. A cynic would say that perhaps the holes were drilled during the cultural revolution and designed to hold a less-than-constructive chemical.
Australia's black arm band approach probably stems from cultural conflict between different groups of Australians that really don't like each other at all. Although the black-armbanders use words like "we", they really mean "them."
A very good example of the cultural difference can be seen in a comedy sketch by the Chaser from the government funded ABC. Offended by deceased Australian icons being praised, the Chaser wanted to criticise the positive approach, and so created what has been referred to as "The Eulogy song." The song included paragraphs like:
"Stan Zemanek was a racist, Dr Fatso xenophobic cock, whose views were more malignant than his brain." (Audience laughs)
"And Brocky was some revhead, who pumped the air with pure lead, so anti green he drove into a tree." (Audience laughs)
"Don Bradman was a total farce, a grumpy, greedy tired-arse, who couldn’t even score one run last time he played." (Audience laughs)
Australian historians have been even more deceitful about Australian history than Chinese have been. Ironically, whereas Chinese historians have distorted their history to make it more positive, Australian historians have distorted their history to make it more negative. In 2002, rogue historian Keith Windschuttle released The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, which showed Australians blatantly lying about history. In the book, Windschuttle used empirical research to show that left-wing historians had fabricated statistics, and misrepresented evidence in order to achieve some kind of self-interest. Windschuttle landed a particularly telling blow on Lyndall Ryan - Head of the Women's Studies Program at Flinders University. Ms Ryan had cited the diary of John Oxley when revealing the deaths of 100 Aborigines at the hands of colonists. Upon checking the diary, Windschuttle found no mention of any deaths. Ryan then cited another source that mentioned four deaths. On national television, Ms Ryan confessed:
“historians are always making up figures.”
Chinese national identity tends to be more rigid than the Australian identity. These differences were seen in 2008 when the Chinese government arrested Chinese born Australian citizen Stern Hu, Rio Tinto’s head of iron ore marketing in China. As far as the Chinese media was concerned, Stern Hu was Chinese. His Australian passport meant nothing. As a consequence, Chinese bloggers referred to Stern Hu as a traitor for putting the interests of his employer, Rio Tinto, over the interests of Chinese steel makers. As far as the Australian media was concerned, Stern Hu was an Australian and the arrest of an Australian was a cause of serious concern.
The different reactions illustrated that the Chinese media views race as more important in identity than does the Australian media, which generally promotes a doctrine of egalitarianism in regards to national identity. In Australia, a migrant can be seen as equally Australian to the native born. In China, a migrant will always be a foreigner.
The Chinese pride themselves on their hospitality that expresses itself in many areas of Chinese life. In country areas, a farmer may invite a traveller to their home, serve a banquet and bring out the baijui (spirits). The host is more than happy if the traveller leaves completely full and then falls down in a drunkard stupor. In cities areas, Chinese men often sit on the street drinking beer, baijui and having a chat. If a friendly stranger passes by, they may welcome him to sit down and drink with them.
Australians are a bit more suspicious of strangers than are Chinese. Furthermore, there isn't a strong desire to be hospitable in order to give the stranger a positive reputation of their region of country. This cultural trait is probably a legacy of left-wingers who make a concerted effort to denigrate Australia. Because left-wingers want foreigners to dislike Australia, they make no effort to be hospitable towards them.
It is mainly in country areas of Australia where a Chinese-style hospitality can still be found. In country pubs, Australians behave in a relatively similar way to Chinese men on city streets. They like nothing more than sharing a beer and a chat with a stranger.
The national goal of China is to become more powerful. Australia's national goal is more difficult to define. Perhaps the only widely held goal is for the government to spend more money on schools and hospitals.
Most Australians like the idea of a labourer being able to sit down and have a beer with the Queen and see her as different but his equal. For example, the trucking magnate Lindsay Fox (net worth $350 million) said of Australia:
'We don't have a class structure. We have people who relate to people. No body is superior. No body is inferior. The people who I went to school with collect the garbage around here. But if they want to come in and have a drink, that's fine with me.'
In China, mixing of people from different classes rarely occurs. Higher class people expect to be treated with respect. Lower class people are open to being friends with everyone, but people above them in social status just don't accept their hand of friendship.
At school, Chinese are taught that they are smart, considerate, intelligent, and have good morals. The education is intended to counter some of the feelings of inferiority that many Chinese feel when they meet foreigners. Some Chinese say they feel inferior because the best quality products are made abroad. Others say it is because expats return to China and say everything is better abroad.
Unlike the Chinese, few Australians suffer an inferiority complex when they compare themselves to other nations. Even though most things in Australia are made in China or Japan, this doesn’t seem to bother Australians. Likewise, when expat Australians, such as Germaine Greer or John Pilger, say everything is better abroad, it is only a small minority of Australians that feel any sense of shame. Instead, the majority of Australians just think the whinging expats are morons who benefiited Australia by leaving it.
In addition to not making much and being insulted by expats, the Australian civilisation commenced with the forced transportation of criminals, which isn't quite as impressive as China's 5,000 years of civilisation that produced great thinkers, big walls, lots of temples, and terracotta warriors.
Australians probably have more confidence because Australia is an egalitarian society. From an early age, Australians are taught to believe in themselves, even when the self-confidence is not warranted. Respect for achievement is somewhat lacking as is respect for self-important people. This confidence in themselves as individuals takes away any sense of shame when meeting foreigners.
Although both Chinese and Australians define their respective countries as multicultural, the word means something different in each. In China, multiculturalism refers to the 56 different groups that have distinct cultures anchored in a region. These groups may speak different languages, wear different clothes, and be of different racial groups. The cultural integrity of the ethnic groups is supported by the central government; however, the ethnic groups are required to learn Mandarin Chinese as a common language.
In Australia, multiculturalism used to mean a form of cultural apathied. Now it basically means lots of people with different coloured faces living together.
In China, it is important to show consideration for others. Typical shows of consideration include sending a getwell text message when a friend is sick, giving some health advice, or helping an elderly person down the stairs.
While the Chinese show consideration to their friends and acquaintances, public consideration is a bit lacking. For example, Chinese spit in swimming pools, on the street, and sometimes even inside buildings. Chinese people also casually throw rubbish on the street, and men frequently urinate on the street.
Australians are less likely to show consideration on an individual level. The general idea is that a person is able to take care of themselves and doesn't need well wishes or help. Receiving help, when it hasn't be asked for, is usually seen as annoying. Australians are; however, more likely than Chinese to show public consideration. Few Australians throw rubbish on the street and most would never spit in a swimming pool. Occasionally drunk men urinate in public; however, etiquette stipulates that they should at least seek out a tree to prevent a urine smell from lingering.
Because Australia is populated by migrants and decendants of migrants, Australians don't have extended families as large as in China. This changes the approach to family relationships.
Aside from having smaller extended families, the nuclear family in Australia operates in a different fashion to China. In Australia, each generation tends to be independent. Parents will support children until they are around 18, and then they concentrate on saving for their own retirement. Parents will then live independently until they are unable to care for themselves. When that occurs, their children will be put them in a old-age home, or convince their parents to live with them.
In China, parents will almost bankrupt themselves giving their children every possibility in life. Huge loans may be taken out to fund the child getting an international education, or buying a home for the boys in the family. In return, the parents will move into their children's home once they get married. The living situation is not ideal for everyone. Chinese men, like men all around the world, are not always fans of their mother-in-laws.
Because parents share a very significant part of their child's adult lives, they naturally want to take part in the selection of their child's spouse. In China this is particularly important as the one-child policy may result in one man supporting 7 people (two sets of parents, wife, child and himself) and naturally parents would like a son-in-law or daughter-in-law with a good income and a prestigious family that doesn't require a lot of supporting themselves.
Until 2001, Chinese psychiatrists officially categorised homosexuality as a mental illness and used drugs to treat it. Even though their sexual desires are no longer defined as signs of a mental illness, homosexuals are not widely accepted. Under the one-child policy, parents fear that a homosexual child means the end of their evolutionary line. Consequently, homosexuals probably get into sham marriages and keep their homosexuality a secret.
Homosexuals in Australia have had a prominent role since the various Australian states decriminalised the act between the 1972 and 1997. For example, Australia has had a gay prime minister, a gay high court judge, numerous gay MPs, and most of Australia's famous male actors have played the role of a gay man. Australia also has a gay and lesbian street party that culiminates in a homosexual orgy known as the Sleeze Ball. The street party and orgy receive congratulations and financial support from governments.
Even though homosexuality is more widely accepted in Australia than in China, Australians are more motivated to reject behaviour seen as gay than are Chinese. For example, straight Chinese women walk down the street holding hands with each other and Chinese men walk down the street with arms on each others shoulders. Such actions in Australia would signal homosexuality. Furthermore, many Chinese men embrace artistic appreciation in a manner that Australians would consider to be signs of homosexuality.
This masculine nature of the Australian male's identity probably developed in the harshness of colonial life. In order to deal with the anguish of being torn from social network in Britain and subsequently being sent to hell in Australia, the Convict men closed down their emotional realm. Not only would this have made the harshness of Australian life less painful, it would have also decreased their chances of being raped by their fellow Convicts. In prisons today, it is those emotionally weak men that are usually targeted by male rapists. In the 80 years that Convicts were sent to Australia, a similar fear of male rapists would have acted as an incentive not to appear emotionally weak.
Chinese like stereotypes. They constitute a large part of their social identity and are frequently used in public persuasion campaigns. For example, the website www.index-china.com describes Chinese people as:
"peaceful, hardworking and easily contented. They respect elders, love children and are patient with their fellows. Chinese in general are reserve and humble. They believe in harmony and never look for confrontation."
Although not all individual Chinese could be defined with these personality characteristics, almost all Chinese would be happy to be defined with these personality characteristics. Furthermore, if the stereotype were evoked in an international situation, almost all Chinese would temporarily conform to it to make it a reality. In these two regards, the stereotypes are an accurate reflection upon reality.
In Australia, there are a large number of egocentric individuals with a strong aversion to stereotyping. If confronted with an international stereotype of Australians, they may respond to it with something like "I don't do that." In their own minds, because they don't personally conform to the stereotype, no other Australian does. Ironically, that behaviour is unique and defining of their sub-culture.
As well as being reluctant to personally conform to stereotypes, many egocentric Australians are also highly motivated to deconstruct positive stereotypes of their fellow Australians. For example, there is a stereotype that Australians believe in a fair go. For some concerned citizens, the stereotype is not accurate and the inaccuracy of the stereotype should be exposed. One of these concerned citizens is Dr Tanja Dreher, UTS Shopfront Research Manager. Ms Dreher has actively gone searching for examples of the stereotype not being accurate in order to deconstruct it. Subsequently, she has released press-releases of the vein:
"There is in fact evidence of a serious gulf between the myth of 'a fair go' Australia and the reality. As a society we need to start taking responsibility for the intolerant and frequently ignorant nation we have become."
The Australian aversion to stereotypes is particularly strong because Australia has never been a united country. The existence of three distinct accents in Australia is a reflection upon distinct social identities that have never really liked each other, and don't want to be covered by each other's labels. One of these accents is the broad Australian accent spoken by the likes of ex-Prime Minister Bob Hawke. Australians who speak with this accent have traditionally being biased in favour of Australia and its culture, and have been quite comfortable with social stereotypes of Australia. At the other extreme is the cultivated accent spoken by the likes of ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. Fraser grew up with a very pro-British social attitude and this was reflected in the way he spoke. Fraser finished his career with an attitude strongly in favour of multiculturalism. His cultivated accent revealed a social identity that was hostile to an Australian identity. Not surprisingly, Fraser was never one to evoke positive stereotypes of the Australian character. Instead, multiculturalism became an excuse to say that no Australian culture existed.
Freedom can be difficult to define. Every government on earth imposes restrictions on individuals to protect other individuals. For example, Singapore restricts the freedom of the individual to chew gum in order to protect the freedom of people who want to walk down the street without stepping on used gum.
The Australian government is very bureaucratic and imposes many restrictions on its people that Asian governments do not. For example, Australians can not smoke inside, drink alcohol in many public areas, ride a bicycle without a helmet, or defame public figures. Furthermore, Australians may lose up to 47 per cent of their income in taxes, which is far more than the 10-20 per cent in China. The Australian government uses this income tax revenue to alter the natural balance of social society. Although the altering of the balance may help Australia, governments have an uncanny habit of getting things wrong, or using revenue for their own agendas. In the process, the individual Australian is denied freedom.
While Chinese have more freedom from government than Australians, they lack freedom in their social sphere. Because they have very strong cultures, a great deal of social pressure is exerted upon the individual in almost every facet of his or her lives. This pressure can be likened to a form of political correctness that constrains the individual when they choose a marriage partner, career, clothes to wear, values to hold, or morals to support. If the individual's desires and values are in conformity with the cultural norms, then the individual feels a sense of belonging. If they are incongruent; however, then they can suffer the same kind of stress that is suffered by Australians when they feel that politically correct values or concepts are stifling their free expression.
If individuals break the cultural taboo by exerting their individual values, they are not going to be taken away and shot anymore than Australians would be taken away and shot for getting a swastika tattooed on their foreheads. However, they will find that their friendships, job opportunities and family prestige will all suffer.
Because Australia lacks a strong culture, individuals can free themselves of a great deal of conformity pressures. Admittedly, Australia has subcultures that exert conformity pressures on the individual, but it is relatively easy for the individual to simply leave the subculture and join another one. Consequently, the subculture can never be too strict. The same can't be said of China. For Chinese who feel constrained by social pressure, the only real option available to them is to migrate to a foreign country.
Insults as terms of endearment
In personal relationship, the Chinese are prone to use insults as terms of endearment. For example, a girlfriend may constantly refer to her boyfriend as fat or stupid. Likewise, a boyfriend, or good friend, may refer to a woman as a fatty or someone with bad taste in clothes.
Australians also are prone to use insults as terms as endearment, but generally refrain from referring to a woman as a fatty or a man as stupid. Instead, the insults tend to be more generic such as bastard or dickhead.
For the Chinese, face is very important, not only for themselves, but also for their dealings with others. Often they refrain from expressing their true feelings because they do not want to strip someone of their dignity. This makes China a very friendly place to visit. Chinese tend to be very complimentary towards the visitors, and want the visitor to leave with a good impression of their country. Even if the visitor is rude and obnoxious, the Chinese will usually refrain from expressing their true feelings and pretend to be respectful.
For historical reasons, face is not important for Australians. For the first 80 years of its urban existence, Australia was a penal colony. This naturally elicited ridicule from foreigners, migrants and Australian civic leaders. That ridicule has never really gone away. Consequently, Australia remains a place where people freely criticise others and are criticised themselves. This makes Australians quite thick skinned, and not very sensitive to causing offence in others. For example, when former Prime Minister Paul Keating referred to the Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamed, as a "recalcitrant", he didn't really have any idea that his remark would cause problems. However, rather than ignore the comment, Mahathir Mohamed viewed Keating's remark as indicative of the country he came from and subsequently said:
"We can't do anything. If people have no manners, I mean children we can smack them I think that a whole nation, or there generally is one nation who have no manners. It's very difficult, who resort to personal vilification and all that."
Compared to Chinese, Australians don't really care what foreigners think of their country because they are so accustomed to hearing negative things about it anyway. So much so, Australians will even join with the foreigners in criticising it. Even when they want to give a compliment, Australians might mask it as an insult.
Paying the bill
Traditionally, the man pays for women in China. Traditionally, the man paid for women in Australia. In the last 50 years, the cultural trait has disappeared in Australia. Women felt that if the man paid, then she might feel obligated to do something she didn't want to do, or that the man would think he didn't need to contribute anything else to the relationship. So effective were the women at changing the psychology of Australian men that now men expect a woman pay her share even when she doesn't want to.
Because there are significant gender imbalances in income in China that don't exist in Australia, it is unlikely that China will ever become completely like Australia in regards to equal payment. (While Australian men overall earn more than women, prior to the ages of 30 when most seduction is occuring, Australian women earn slightly more than men.)
Amongst friends in China, going dutch is quite common for young people. For older generations, the person doing the inviting usually pays. At a big gathering of friends, the host or the rich person will pay. In Australia, everyone usually contributes something. Each individual would feel like a bludger (freeloader) if he or she didn't.
Men and women all over the world share similar sexual desires that they disguise with different types of morality. In China, sex is generally a taboo topic for conversations, and a virgin woman is valued for marriage. In Australia, sexual topics are quite openly discussed and not many men seek a virgin woman for marriage. As a result, most Australian men and women are very sexually experienced by the time they get married.
In the eyes of most older Chinese, Australians are very immoral for engaging in promiscuous sex. Chinese; however, have numerous practices that are quite immoral for Australians. Because Chinese often have little sexual experience before marriage, they often find themselves in sexually unfulfilling marriages. Because a lack of sexual fulfilment is so common, it is relatively acceptable for married men in China to visit prostitutes or to have a mistress. In Australia, there is far less tolerance of married men visiting prostitutes or taking a mistress.
As a general rule, Chinese uphold their morality before marriage and then they have their fun. Australians have their fun before marriage, then accept the morality associated with the ball and chain. (Younger generations of Chinese are becoming more like Australians.)
Aside from having different morals in regards to virginity in women, Chinese and Australians have different morality in regards to what constitutes negative sexualisation of women. For Chinese, the practice of Australian women topless sunbaking is quite immoral. For Australians, the sexualisation of school girls in Taiwan is immoral. (Mainland China does not sexualise school girls like Taiwan. The Communist Party tends to crack down quite harshly on any form of sexualisation of Chinese women.)
Alcohol is important to the Chinese, as well as to Australians. The manner of consumption; however, is different. Chinese men skull their booze, and get drunk very quickly. Once drunk, they find it quite acceptable to act in an uncontrolled fashion. Furthermore, drinking is used to show respect. Chinese will tap the glass and bottoms up. Failure to bottoms up denies the initiator face.
In Australia, it is only university students who skull their booze or have drinking games. Older Australians drink more slowly, mix in conversation with the drinking, and generally frown upon people who seem unable to function in a relatively normal manner while intoxicated. Australians will toast, but the toast only requires a little alcohol be drunk. It doesn't require the whole glass be downed.
When Chinese get together, they are prone to do things rather than have conversations. For example, they like to go to karaoke boxes, play games with dice, or have drinking games. When Australians get together, they have lots of conversations. Admittedly, ockers might go pig shooting together, but generally the focus is more towards communicating. For many Chinese in Australia, this social trait makes Australians boring. They basically say Australians just get drunk and talk. They don't go to karaoke.
Activity 1 - Freedom
Activity purpose - To appreciate that freedom is often sought but rarely defined
Come up with a definition of freedom and then apply it to Australian and Chinese society to decide which is more free
Activity 2 - The Australian media
Activity purpose - Evaluate the pros and cons and Chinese and Australian media
In recent years, the Australian government has expressed a desire for more media regulation. Decide if you believe the following things are problematic features of the Australian media and if so, whether government control could alleviate them
In Australia, journalists don’t want to inform, instead, they want to stir up the red ants and the green ants so that they fight each other, which then allows the journalist to give running commentary of the fight
The Australian media is just full of opinion, and lacks objectivity
The Australian media just tends to be a stage that publishes the press releases of some business or interest group
The Australian media lacks diversity of opinion
When the Australian media needs an expert, it often consults "think tanks", which is just a lobby group set up to be experts.
The press gallery in Canberra suffers "Group Think", which prevents any real critical inquiry
Activity 3 - Gender equality
Activity purpose – Identifying gender hierarchies in various customs
Confucius said that women should respect their husbands. Chairman Mao thought this was a bit sexist and responded by saying that women hold up half the sky.
1) Compare the status of women in the following to ascertain whether women are closer to holding up half the sky in Australia or China
Paying for meals
Family court verdicts
2) In you opinion, which areas are most important to have equality?