Carrying over their cultural norm of indirect communications, Chinese folks use English words with an intended slightly different meaning. For example, a misunderstanding means that someone does not understand something important and has pissed someone off because of it. I’ve used this word in conversations when I wanted to reduce the severity of a global issue or international politics. Appealing to the moderate “middle path” nature of the Chinese, there is always balance–just look at the first character of the Chinese word for “China.” Happiness is good but not necessary, so unhappy news is nothing more than a misunderstanding.
In my work I talk to hundreds of Chinese people every month. What I see is typical nationalism about China’s rise to power. Nothing surprising there. The Chinese, like everyone else, love their nation. What I don’t see as often is the mature or developed awareness of anything foreign. I see the Chinese people aware of China and familiar with China and Chinese cuisine and Chinese history and Chinese culture and Chinese language and Chinese art and Chinese geography and Chinese stereotypes and Chinese prejudice and Chinese prides and shames and strengths and weaknesses. The Chinese know Chinese successes and Chinese tragedies and Chinese economics and Chinese politics and the Chinese family and Chinese government. The Chinese know how the Chinese see China. They know what it means to be Chinese, according to the Chinese. The Chinese know China. I see that clearly. Spending a generation cut off from the world was the golden opportunity to learn a lot about yourself, yourself, yourself and yourself.
I welcome China’s ascent to world affluence and influence because it will take some of the spotlight off the nation I love: the USA. I want someone else to be the most or biggest or greatest anything in the world. Have it!
But be careful what you wish for because fame and fortune are not all they’re cracked up to be. As the US falls from the world’s premier position of wealth and power, so too will the endless criticism and resentment included with that title. Have it!
The more powerful, influential, and wealthy you are, the more you are in the public eye and scrutinized and criticized for what you do or don’t do. All over the world. At internet speed.
World power? Have it! China is rising again and will start to learn about something other than China, but the lessons learned won’t always be in the moderate, middle path way preferred by the Chinese. China’s correct, there is balance in the world and you get the real bad with the real good. Have it! Have it! Have it!
My advice for any nation’s foreign policy with China is pretty simple. When, in the future, there are conflicts of any kind, just continue what you’re doing and call it a misunderstanding.