China is known for being a country of history and tradition. From the Great Wall of China to Terra Cota warriors and even the Yangtze River, China seems to be a country that markets itself by using its history. Or this is as the western world sees China. China is a country that is growing at an accelerated rate. However, it still receives millions of visitors from all around the world, coming to experience a historical China and be part of the many traditions that exist.
Below is a picture of how the western world sees China, timeless architecture. But the country has since expanded from this image and modernized the larger cities the same way that New York and London have. Beijing has spectacular modern architecture and a towering skyline that would rival any of that of the western world.
James Hattersley from the University of Salford was interviewed about his trip to China during his gap year from university.
‘My trip to China was extremely enjoyable! I went out there for just over two weeks, and travelled from Shanghai, up through the eastern coast, stopping at various towns and cities along the way, such as Nanjing and Qingdao and finishing up in Beijing. Throughout the trip, I saw many of the points of interest that China has to offer, such as the birth place of Confucius, The Forbidden Temple, part of the Great Wall of China and climbing a mountain in flip flops. Sleeping in youth hostels, I was able to talk to various people and grasp a basic sense of Chinese culture etiquette.’
A very large problem for a lot of visitors to China is the language barrier. China has two main languages, Mandarin and Cantonese, which can be very daunting for western visitors, as both are very hard languages to learn and having numerous languages spoken in one area can cause a lot of communication issues. James went on to speak about the language barrier.
‘Perhaps the hardest part of the trip was the language barrier, not speaking Mandarin or Cantonese myself, making a purchase or gaining directions when I was on my own, away from the tour guide, became very difficult as it was hard to communicate what it was I wanted to know or buy.’
The Chinese view of the western world can be rather racially insensitive, however some of it is understandable. The intimidating image of the ‘white man’ goes back hundreds of years, when the western world invaded China. Many Chinese people are still prejudice towards westerners to the extent that they will openly shun them with no shame. James discussed a racist incident that occurred during his time in the country.
‘There was a man and his young daughter who saw my group walking down the street. He proceeded to tell his daughter that the white devils, referring to the white members of the group as the ‘white devils’, would take her away if she would not behave.’
These people see the ‘white man’ as some sort of intimidating force that will punish a country if it opposes it in anyway, almost like a dictator of countries. Both sides of the world have very stereotypical and even racist views of the opposite side. This is down to the fact that either side not knowing any better. Cinema can take a big part of the blame for this. In Hollywood, the east is depicted as a country of dragons and martial arts, where as the west is depicted as a ‘bunch of gunslingers’ originating from John Wayne films.
These views will remain to exist until both sides start to become less ignorant about the rest of the world and truly discover what the outside world is really like, rather than believing everything that is shown on television.