When it comes to understanding another country, most people, especially Americans cannot relate. Part the reason for this is the lack of historical education people receive about the world in general. Most people understanding of history go back to when they were born, and maybe one of two generations before that. As a result, the understanding of another culture is even more limited. In this short article, we will explore a few facts about China that you most likely do not know.
Relative to history, China is not Communist
The recorded history of China goes back to about 2000 B.C.E. This parallels to some degree the recorded history of Israel. However, from about 2000 B.C.E to 1911 C.E. China was ruled by dynasties. These were ruling families that acted as emperors. So basically, over 3,900 years of Chinese history there was nothing even remotely known as communism. In 1911, China’s government was the Republic of China. In 1949, a civil war in China resulted in the Republic of China losing to the People’s Republic of China, also known as the Communist Party.
So, China has been communist for only 67 years as of 2016. Relative to the entire history of China, this is less than 2% of its entire cultural history. So the next time you think of China, reach deep down into your creative mind and know that they as a people are replete with a rich history that has nothing to do with Communism. Also consider that anything can happen in this world, so to assume that China will always be communist is to ignore history and human events.
Religion is practiced in Communist China
Most people, again especially Americans think of Communist China as a non-religious even atheistic country. The Communist Party has presented itself as an atheistic organization; however, they actually have protected religious freedom built into their constitution, after 1978. Although it is restricted in many ways, modern China does recognize five major religions. They are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism.
It can be acknowledge that China has the highest percentage of the population proclaiming to be atheist. According to a Gallup International poll published in 2015 this could be upwards of 49% to 61%. However, a modern map of China will show that large geographic areas are indeed very religious. In fact, most travelers to China seem to see a different picture of China than a country where over half the population is “perpetrated” to be atheist. If you follow the cited reference iii, you will see a map where large geographic areas of China are dominated by one of the five major religions recognized in China.
There is more than one political party in China
Most people wrongly conclude that modern day China is ruled by one political party which is the Communist Party. The reality is that China actually has nine viable political parties. Unlike the American political system, they are not opposing parties. They in reality operate as participating parties in the ongoing discussion, direction and future administration of China. They are discussed in the referenced notation, however they are listed here:
• China revolutional Committee of the Kuomintang
• China Democratic League
• China Democratic National Construction Association
• China Association for the Promotion of Democracy
• Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party
• China Zhi Gong Dang
• Jiusan Society
• Taiwan Democratic Self-government League
In addition to this, as a sub-heading, it should be noted that although Taiwan acts in many areas as an independent country apart from China, it is still considered to be part of mainland China by the Chinese government. Depending on how one looks at it, is Taiwan government just another party for China, or is Taiwan truly an independent country. They Jury is still out on this.
Fortune Cookies are not from China
Several years ago, my then girl friend from Taiwan invited her friend to visit us in America. (Remember-Taiwan is Chinese-or not??). Well we went to a Chinese restaurant in America and at the end of the meal they brought out the Chinese Fortune Cookies. My friend from Taiwan wanted to know what they were. I informed her that she should know as it is her culture! That is when I found out that Chinese Fortune Cookies were an American invention, claimed to have been created by David Jung, a Chinese immigrant to Los Angeles and founder of the Hong Kong Noodle Company in 1918. He made them, put pieces of paper inside them with Bible verses and passed them out for free to the poor. David Jung was also a Presbyterian minister.
This discovery of mine has since been confirmed by every person I meet who were born and raised in either China or Taiwan. I am feeling like a dumb American about now.
So there you have it. A few things about China you did not know, or may have forgotten. So the next time you thing you know something about a culture or a country, make sure you do your research before jumping to conclusions.