East vs West
Lone Girl On Chinese Road

Cultural Differences: Safety In China vs The West

Today, I had a conversation with a subscriber who added me on WeChat.  She travelled from Johannesburg, South Africa to Vietnam to teach English for six months, and now found herself in China to continue her English teaching journey.

I invited her to a “teachers in China” WeChat group chat.

Then I asked, “What cultural differences did you observe since coming from South Africa to China?”

She replied, “Lots of cultural differences.  Chinese are quite strong in their culture.  Chinese are very united amongst themselves.  Food is such a problem.  The weather is so different.  I love that it is so safe, and everyone is so strict with abiding by the law.”

…“I feel like a celebrity.  People have been taking pictures of me without permission.  I went with my boyfriend to his school and the kids were so amazed with my hair!”

I could relate with her on all of those points, but especially the sense of security you get from living in China.

How Safe Is China?

Where she comes from in South Africa, she inferred that law is something South Africans readily break.  In China, she noticed how all Chinese people adhere to the law.

This to her was a stark cultural difference.

The reasons China is so safe could stem from several reasons,

  • Chinese people respect law and order.
  • Ordinary Chinese citizens fear the consequences of crossing the dictatorship that is the People’s Republic of China (人民民主专政).
  • Chinese citizens are afraid to break the law because incrimination would cause them to lose face (面子), and will be shameful to their families, so they just do not do it.

There may be other financial and social reasons for them to not break the law.

Are Women Safe In China?

In my experience, and from others who have lived in China, China is a safe country to live in.  I feel a greater sense of safety in China for example, than in Australia.

In Australia, as a female, walking down the street at night – especially in a dark alleyway – would make you feel afraid for your safety.  You will definitely be fearful, looking around.  One recent, highly publicized murder of an Australian female comedian Eurydice Dixon illustrates the fears in Australian society.

In China, however, anyone and everyone walks around at midnight by themselves, and nobody cares.  I would take a midnight stroll at Guangzhou’s Pearl River, and find many people there alone doing the same thing.

The reason Chinese people feel safe in China is because they all come from the same country.  There is no suspicion in China when everyone is your uncle (shushu), or big brother (dage), or some random foreigner to take photos with.

They all have the same cultural backgrounds, and they are all the same family, so there is no fear there.

Culture Of Violence Nonexistent In China

Some other reasons why I like China is because in China,

  • There is no gang violence.
  • There are no people trying to bash you, or shoot you.
  • There are no guns. You will not see the kinds of shooting massacres you would see in America.
  • Carjacking is rare. Rich and poor classes in China are so divided that the village street vendor is not going to attempt to steal a Porsche.  I have never seen or heard of a carjacking in China.
  • There is no terrorism.
  • There are no suicide bombers trying to fly airplanes into Chinese buildings.
  • There are no trucks or cars trying to slam into groups of people, such as what happened in Melbourne.
  • As a woman, you will not feel unsafe walking around the streets after dark.

The only ethnic violence China does experience is with the Tibetan and Xinjiang people.  But I have not been to either one of those two provinces to know what the extent of discrimination and violence against them is.

How Safe Is Western Society?

Australia – when looked at in context of percentages – is also is a fairly safe country.  The percentage of risk coming from terror-related incidents is minimal, but, the threat still exists.  It became part of Australian people’s thinking for some time.

In terms of terrorism, I believe the 9/11 incident in America has passed.  Less people are talking or thinking about it.  The world has moved on.  I would dare to say that American people have also started to move on from that tragic moment in American history.

In terms of state enemies, America has enemies with many countries, such as Syria, North Korea, The Middle East, Iran, and China to a lesser extent too is a competitive enemy.  There is a swathe of countries that do not like America.

Australia does not have any natural enemies.  No one is trying to destroy Australia.

China does not have any natural enemies either.  There are no people burning the Chinese flag in nations around the globe.  That is what makes China an appealing destination for living the rest of your life.  As long as you can put up with a dictatorship and less human rights in terms of what can be viewed on the internet, then it is a good country to live in.

China As A Harmonious Society

In general, in Chinese society, I see nothing other than a harmonious society, which truly is a great thing.  Chinese people are very united, as the girl said.

Chinese people go about their business in China with the most common principles known to Chinese, the value of money, the value of family, and recently, the value of travel.

In Chinese society, people like to travel as often as they can.  The burgeoning middle-class study, graduate, work hard, make money, learn a second and third language, and travel overseas every few years.

You can also say language has value, because many people in China do not just know Chinese and Cantonese, but they are also learning a third language, such as English, German, French, or Spanish.  These are the most common languages I have come across that Chinese people learn.

I hope more people get a chance to travel to China.  It truly is a country underrated mostly by people who do not care to understand China.  The temples and monasteries also provide an escape from all the pressure and stress of everyday modern life.


Are you looking for suitable English-Chinese language exchange partners in China and Abroad?

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