During the Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976, the Chinese had been spending most of their times trying to deny many cultural heritages they had rather than improving, modifying and progressing their own culture. This delay in the development of Chinese culture from 1966 to 1976 caused a temporary blank culturally in the entire nation. Many people neither knew what happened nor know what to do. “The adjustment of individuals and groups is related to culture situation. ” (Thomas 2) Some Chinese referred the Cultural Revolution as the period of madness.
After the Cultural Revolution ended, many people were frantically searching for pabulums to fulfill their spiritual hunger. Coincidently at the same time, the Chinese government also changed their foreign policy that allowed western culture to be introduced to China. To many Chinese, the newly entered western culture was their pabulum because they have confused the term modernization with westernization. As a result, in the late 1980’s, the fever of following western culture blindly and unconditionally reached its climax.
At that time, everything western seemed to be better and higher than anything domestic. Fortunately, this fever has started to cool down. As the author of English: one language, different cultures stated: “People do not usually realize how much their daily life is influence by unwritten cultural rules. ” Under the influence of western culture, China is now undergoing a phase of tremendous cultural change especially in areas of language, lifestyle and moral conceptions.
It was only thirty years ago that English was still not one of the essential subjects many Chinese universities would consider for admission averages; it was only thirty years ago that many elementary schools in China still did not have English classes. Yet today in China, after only thirty years, English has become one of the mandatory subjects besides Chinese and Math that even kindergarten children have to learn it well. Just like the way computers had impacted and spread around the world, English has marched its way into the Chinese classrooms affecting and changing the lives of many Chinese people and their culture.
Ever since China has become one of the most rapidly developing countries in the world, English gushed into the Chinese culture. For the past decades, many Chinese were steeped into a wave of English craze. It seems rather fashionable to speak Chinese with frequent English vocabularies inserted into the sentences. Hip-hops or rap songs with a few English choruses are widely popular. Especially after China had joined the World Trade Organization on November 11, 2001, English skill has become one of the minimum requirements for most job interviews in the commerce and public service industry.
All in all, learning English has become part of the nowadays Chinese culture as China opened its cultural gate to embrace globalization in 1976 after the end of the great Cultural Revolution. Although the phenomenon of the emergence of the popularity of English is an optimistic indication that China is willing to befriend with the world, many Chinese scholars hold objections towards this point of view. These scholars are afraid that English might become a detriment to the Chinese language. Due to its gigantic consumer’s and labour market, countless foreign companies and manufacturers are investing huge amounts of money in China.
Although this would certainly create myriads of job opportunities as well as accelerating China’s already fast-growing economy, it would also greatly increase the demand of English as second language speakers. Statistics shows that the gross trading value between China with the European Union and the North America was USA $1250 billion in 2004. With this attractive number and the rapidly expanding future between China and other English speaking countries in trades and commerce, some Chinese people focused more on how to communicate properly and accurately in English rather than concentrating to improve their Chinese language skills.
For that reason, if more and more students choose to learn English as their major or minor in universities, it would decrease the number of people that would potentially choose to learn Chinese instead. Since “being arguably the most influential language of globalization, the English language remains a pivotal language,” (Ooi, 1) many Chinese regard English as the ticket to a better future. Thus in the long run, this would affect the development and heritage of the Chinese language.
In addition to language, the entrance of western lifestyle also made its acquaintance with the Chinese people. In the old days, it is customary that after a couple gets married, they should live with the groom’s family. Despite the fact that this tradition has been followed for hundreds of years, many dislikes and misunderstandings frequently occur between the bride and her mother-in-law. To avoid this problem, nowadays, when couples get married, most of them move out of their parents’ home and live on their own.
Although this change in lifestyle might not make such a huge difference for the newly wedded couples, it takes a long period of time for the couples’ parents to accept the fact that they will be living alone. As we all know, the Chinese culture greatly values the importance and harmony of kinship family, where at least three generations in the family all live together, the phenomenon of not living with the parents after marriage will inevitably change the future generations’ view on the definition of family.
Certain acceptance of western concepts has challenged some traditional moral conducts. This is particularly apparent in young people with ages less than 40. “Parents [60 years-old or above] are more than a little alarmed at how readily their offspring accept Western concepts of marriage and sex. ” (China Today, 2) According to a recent survey done on young residents of Beijing in 2000, only 30 percent of the people being surveyed disagreed with the idea that whether with or without marriage, it is fine for lovers to have sex.
Moreover, the proportion of participants with ages below 20 hold this opinion was 16 percent higher than those with ages above 30. A genuine concern arises when some Chinese youths’ blindfold acceptance of western culture. Many fear it may lead to moral degeneracy. Needless to say, this survey result is the direct opposite of the traditional Chinese thinking and “by reflection upon their conceptual foundations or conceptual speculation utterly indifferent to empirical findings,” (Bruner 3) some Chinese have lost the ability to judge what is acceptable in one culture and what is unacceptable in another culture.
They forgot the fact that not long ago, many Chinese couples still believe that not only it is against the law, it is also a moral misconduct to have sex without marriage. Being one of the important elements of culture, moral concepts of the Chinese people have also changed. Culture is defined as “the customs and beliefs, art, way of life and social organization of a particular country or group” (285) in the dictionary. Ever since the opening-up policy introduced in China after the Cultural Revolution ended, the Chinese youth has apparently embraced western culture.
They enjoy hanging out with their friends while eating at any one of the 600 McDonald’s or any one of the 1000 KFC’s on the streets; they enthusiastically cheer for their favorite Italian soccer team; they infatuatedly collect pictures and autographs of their favorite NBA player. After the years of from simply absorbing to the current modifying until finally to reflect and create its own cultures in the future, China will experience an unavoidable process.
While China joins the world party of globalization, western culture is silently yet heavily impacting the current Chinese culture.
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