Home Society and Culture La Cina è già qui

La Cina è già qui
Read in 19 min.
Listen in 24 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Giada Messetti

La Cina è già qui

An overview of a fascinating culture and its history: CHINA

Cold war, or hot peace? Relations between East and West have always been complex, as they have always been based on prejudices and misunderstandings. China is one of the most distant and impenetrable countries in the world, defined by thousands of years of self-isolation, an almost indecipherable written language, and a deeply rooted culture, steadfastly resisting dilution, while globalisation threatens the very survival of most ancient cultures of the world. Against the backdrop of a planet which has never before been so interconnected, trying to understand the Chinese universe - its attitudes, its beliefs, and the feelings that guide them - means accepting that there is more than one way to live. Ultimately, the solution to any culture "clash ” is likely neither by means of infiltration, nor assimilation, but through mutual respect for our combined and infinite wealth of complementary, cultural values.

La Cina è già qui
Read in 19 min.
Listen in 24 min.

Chinese literature defines the spirit of the entire population

When it comes to understanding the differences between Western and Chinese cultures, the written language is a good place to start. Chinese writing is completely different from the alphabet structure we are used to in the West. Chinese is one of the world’s oldest writing systems, and its origins can be traced back to the reign of the Shang Dynasty king, We Ding, (1250-1192 BC). By the seventh century AD, the Chinese alphabet had already been defined, and it has always played an important role in the country’s culture. One of the evaluation criteria in the admittance exam to join China’s Civil Service is the accuracy of a candidate's handwriting.

In China, writing has influenced the entire civilisation. Chinese writing is logographic, which means that every symbol either represents a word, or a minimal unit of meaning. The logograms that make up the language hold the key to another world. There are 85,000 symbols in total; knowing three or four thousand of them is enough to be able to read a book or a newspaper, and only intellectuals go beyond 6,000. Each logogram expresses a concept, and works like a sort of Lego brick whose meaning changes depending on which other logogram it is connected to. Nowadays, there are three different types of logograms: those that represent a concept or an object by stylising them, those that merge the previous ones, and the "phonetic-semantic" ones. Most words consist of two juxtaposed signs.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Chinese government considered abandoning logograms altogether, to avoid further isolating themselves from a rapidly evolving world that was exploring new trade routes and diplomatic relations. After the Second World War, however, the system was simplified, and Standard Mandarin was declared the national language as part of the Communist Party’s attempt to increase the literacy rate.

The second challenge arose at the end of the 1970s, when it became clear that Chinese writing risked becoming an obstacle to the progressive introduction of information technology in the country. The problem (which had already presented itself when the typewriter was invented) was how to write Chinese with a keyboard.


The key ideas of "La Cina è già qui"

Chinese literature defines the spirit of the entire population
How Chinese writing overcame the obstacle of modern technology
Understanding a different culture is difficult from the outside
If you want to do business in China, you must adhere to guanxi
Promote social harmony and be helpful to save face
Fear of shame dictates government behaviour
Enormous power is needed to manage enormous challenges
Why the Chinese “copy things”
Chinese cuisine is a perfect mirror of the country’s culture
Daoism, the second dominant belief system in China
To deal with the dragon, we need to understand its background
Take-home message
4books preview

Try 4books Premium for free!