I fully expect this to be my last trip to China. The reasons are complex but have nothing to do with the country itself. These are just some random thoughts I have on this, my final excursion here.
I like China, mainly for its people. The average Chinese that I have met here is courteous and respectful with two exceptions; entering and exiting elevators and driving. It’s pretty much every man for himself on the elevator thing, and I wouldn’t last ten seconds driving in China.
The people that I have the honor of working with in China are smart and capable. It takes a Westerner a little while, but eventually, you begin to understand and appreciate their sense of humor. They also have a depth of feeling that you only discover if they let you in.
During a discussion with some of my friends, I learned why they and almost all the Chinese that I deal with have taken to me. I was told that ‘I speak from the heart’ and this is something that they can immediately see. To me, I am just telling them the truth when I talk and therein lay another cultural difference.
The people reading this blog need to remember that the Chinese do not and never have had the Judeo/Christo ethic. This is something so ingrained in Western culture that even atheists follow the basic rules set by it, though it is unlikely they would call it that. There are many Buddhists in China, but the ‘rules’ in Buddhism are radically different and have more to do with Karma, the sum of a person’s actions affect on their next life than the immediate right and wrong.
Add to that, many of the Chinese people have no religion or belief in God at all. They follow the laws established by the government. So, truth in China becomes ‘flexible.’ If it cannot be seen to cause some type of harm and benefits the individual, lies are the same as truth. This is also seen in the way that bribery is an accepted practice throughout many of the Chinese institutions. It actually confuses many of the people I work with in China when I refuse to allow them to give cash ‘gifts’ to a customer. They really do not understand what is wrong with it.
While my title is Quality and Regulatory oriented, I often have to go well outside those duties and help in other areas. Since my education, training, and experience includes multiple disciplines besides the ones in my title, I usually have no issue doing this. I have found I am accepted by the people in whatever role I need to play in China because I am trusted. This trust isn’t something that they give easily.
Trust comes from following through on what you say. It also comes from jumping in to help when you can tell someone is struggling. I have several people who work for me in China, and they all know that I jealously protect them. As they say to me, “I know you have my back.”
Relationships are essential to the Chinese. I make it a point to talk to all of my people when I am there. I don’t care if you are a line-worker or Senior Manager if you work for me, even indirectly, I will seek you out and have a moment with you. People are not assets; they are people, and they need to be treated with respect. They all know me by now, and they all smile and talk with me when I stop by.
I don’t care about the politics between our two countries. The Chinese people I know are good, hard-working people with families that they love as much as any American. Isn’t that what really matters?
I have sent a letter to the Chinese government thanking them for allowing me to spend time in their beautiful country, to meet the wonderful people, and to experience a culture that predates ours by thousands of years. It’s only right, as a guest, for me to thank my hosts.
If you get the chance to visit China, try to get to know the people instead of just looking at ancient architecture. You will go home with a better heart instead of just a camera full of pictures.