Student Answers to Let's Play Q and A.  Orientation Session 3


1. What kind of government does your host country have? Can you name people prominent in the country's affairs (politics, athletics, religion, the arts, etc.)?


2. Who are the country's national heroes and heroines? Can you recognize the national anthem?


3. What is your host country's attitude toward trash? The environment? Conservation of resources?


China over the past couple years has had a serious problem with trash/pollution. There are inadequate collection and disposal programs to accommodate the Chinese population. The environment has suffered greatly during China’s economic development. Acid rain and erosion are serious problems that the government is being forced to deal with.  However, there are some small efforts being made to improve the situation. China is a very resource abundant country and has been using its reserves to help the country. One of the most notable examples is the damning of the Yangtze River.


4. Are other languages spoken besides the dominant language? What are the social and political implications of language usage?


Official dominant language is Mandarin Chinese.  There are 55 official nationalities; 6.5% of the population.  The other 93.5% are Han Chinese.  There are 202 listed languages in China, but only 201 of those are living languages; one is extinct.  Languages include Chinese Sign Language also.  Many of these languages are carried throughout south, north, south central, and northwestern of China; areas of the minorities in China. (Reference:


5) What is the predominant religion?  Is it a state religion?  Are they tolerant of other religions?  Have you read any of its sacred writings?


 Main religions are Buddhism, Taoism (Daoism), Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism.  Due to the Chinese citizen’s right to freedom of religious belief, there are many followers of various religions.  The legal protection promised from the Chinese judiciary and administration protects citizens’ force or interference in normal religious activities.  This protection includes all ethnic minorities in China; a fair distribution of equality in religious beliefs. (Reference:

(The last question to this question is kind of a personal one, but I guess I’ll answer it anyways.  I have studied a little bit about Buddhism, Taoism, and Islam.)


6) What are the most important religious observances and ceremonies?  How regularly do people participate in them?


 Major annual events open to the public include the following:

            The Spring Fest-Chinese New Year (Feb 1-15) [All provinces]

            Monlam, the Great Prayer Fest & Butter Sculpture Show (Feb 18-19) [Kumbu Monastery, Xining, Qinghai]

            International Tourism Fest (April 10 – May 10) [Kunming, Yunnan]

            Macau Arts Fest (May 11-23) [Macau]

            Dragon Boat Fest (June 6) [Macua]

            Shining Buddha & Devil Dance (May 17-18) [Kumbu Monastery, Xining, Qinghai]

            Horse Fest (Aug 1-7) [Lithang, Sichuan]

            Horse Racing Fest (July 25-29) [Yushu, Qinghai]

            Shoton Fest (Aug 29 – Sept 4) [Tibet]

            Mid-Autumn Fest-the Moon Fest (Sep 13) [All provinces]



7. How are animals treated? Are they household pets? Which animals are household pets?


Animals are a small priority to the Chinese government. Animals such as the Panda are nearing extinction due to removal of their natural habitat. There is also a problem with poaching and trapping of endangered animals. There are some household pets, but not many. Birds are a common pet in China.


8. What are the most common forms of marriage ceremonies and celebrations?


There are a variety of marriage ceremonies and celebrations in China due to the variety of cultures. There is a large Muslim population in western China, there was a large effort made by Christian Missionaries in the 1800s and early 1900s.


 9. What is the attitude toward divorce? Extramarital relations? Plural marriage?


The attitude towards divorce in China is that it is allowed if both the husband and the wife agree to the divorce. Both parties must apply to the marriage registration authority for the divorce. Extra marital relations and plural marriages are not acceptable and are grounds for divorce.


10. What is the attitude toward gambling? Toward drinking? Toward drugs?


Gambling remains mainly illegal in China although the racetrack is doing quite well in Hong Kong and Macau, both also have famous casinos. Alcohol remains common among the Chinese as a very social role. Many consume alcohol when eating or playing games with family and friends. The government has chosen not to interfere with alcohol use and consumption and no laws have been established regarding purchase or consumption. As for drug use in China, the problem seems to be growing.  It was estimated that at the end of 2002 the number of drug users has risen 11% since the pervious year, reaching about 1 million people. The drug of choice seems to be heroin.


11. Do women work outside the home? In professional jobs?


 As of today, it is common that women work outside the home in all sorts of jobs. Women used to be seen as unequal to men but as times are changing so is the role of women in and outside of the home. By the 1980's women were seen as full equals to men and had full equality to men in relations to opportunities and positions in society.


12. Is the price asked for merchandise fixed, or are customers expected to bargain? How is the bargaining conducted?


The price for merchandise is not always fixed, although it may be. You can try to bargain for an item, but the store owner/vender may tell you that the prices are fixed. Larger stores are most likely going to have fixed prices. The bargaining starts when the merchant tells you a price and then you ask for a lower price. This can continue until you realize that the merchant is not going to lower the price for you any lower.



13. If, as a customer, you touch or handle merchandise for sale, will the storekeeper think you are knowledgeable? Inconsiderate? Within your rights? Completely outside your rights? Other?  


The touching and handling of merchandise will differ depending on the merchant. A good rule of thumb is to ask permission before handling an item. If you pick up an item without asking first, the merchant could be likely to think that you are rude and outside of your rights. Other merchants may be contented that you are taking time to look at their merchandise and may think you are completely within your rights. Some merchants may even think that you are planning to definitely buy the item you have picked up. So take a second to get a verbal or visual “okay” before you are to touch anything a merchant has to sell.


14. How do people organize their daily activities? What is the normal meal schedule? Is there a day- time rest period? What is the customary time for visiting friends?

From what I have gathered mainly from “Encountering the Chinese” Peoples daily activities revolve around their meal times.  Noon to 1 pm is considered lunch time, which is followed by a 2 hour nap time period. Dinner in the People’s Rebuplic is served from 6 to 7. Peoples other activities tend to take place in the morning from 9 to noon and also following their afternoon nap. Visiting in china is slightly different than in the U.S. Unannounced visits are not uncommon, and visiting hours are slightly different than in the U.S. For example a Chinese friend may stop by during dinner hours unannounced. Customary visiting time is any time after 9 am up until around 11 pm.


15. What foods are most popular, and how are they prepared? Who sits down together for meals? Who is served first?


Which foods are most popular largely depends on which part of china you are in. Speaking generally however, spicy meats and vegetables served with rice seem to be a favorite throughout the country.  Chinese meals usually consist of at least four courses including appetizers and several main dishes. The traditional main dishes are usually all different, some containing meats like fish or pork and some being vegetarian. Common appetizers include cold meats, and boiled peanuts. A family and guests sit down together for meals, with the guests being seated after the food is already on the table. The guests are served first and their plates are replenished when they become empty by either the person sitting next to them or the host16. What things are taboo in this society?


17. What is the usual dress for women? For men? " Are slacks and/or shorts worn? If so, on what occasions? Do teenagers wear jeans?


18. Are there special privileges of age and/or gender? What kinds of group social activities are there? Are they divided by gender?


19. If you are invited to dinner, should you arrive early? On time? Late? If late, how late? Is being on time an important consideration in keeping doctor's appointments? Business appointments? 


It is important on time in most occasions, it part of the culture to show respect. On any occasion it is important on time in China.


 20. On what occasions would you present (or accept) gifts from people in the country? What kinds of gifts would you exchange?


The adult will give out money to kids on New Year time and family gathering is very important for special holidays.



21. Do some flowers have a particular significance? :.


22. How do people greet one another? Shake hands? Embrace or kiss? How do they take leave of one another? What does any variation from the usual greeting or leave-taking signify?

23. Can women vote? Travel alone? Drive a car?


24. What are the important holidays? How is each observed?


25. What are the favorite leisure and recreational activities of adults? Children? Teenagers? Are men and women separated in these activities? Where are these activities held?


26. What is the attitude toward adoption? Beggars? The homeless?


27. What kinds of television programs are shown? What social purposes do they serve?


28. What is the normal work schedule? Is it important to be on time?


29. How will your financial position and living conditions compare with those of the majority of people living in this country?


30. How are children disciplined at home? At school? Are they catered to?


31. Are children usually present at social occasions? At ceremonial occasions? If they are not present, how are they cared for in the absence of their parents?


The book did not mention children much in the context of social occasions. I found some information from other sources. Children are present at a wake and funeral and all have certain colors they wear depending on their relation to the deceased. At another less formal celebration, the Chinese new year, children are present and receive red envelopes from family and friends filled with “Lucky Money” whose amount depends on the relation
to the giver.


32. How does this society observe children's "coming of age"? Are boys preferred over girls?


In ancient Chinese culture boys went through “Guan” rituals when they turned 20. They were expected to spend the next 10 years either working or in the military. Women had no real coming of age before marriage because
raising a family was thought to be their primary focus in life. Boys are preferred over girls, a remnant of the more patriarchic days. This is especially important with the modern Chinese limits on family size. Because of this, children feel more pressure now than ever as parents place unrealistic expectations on their sole child.


33. What kind of local public transportation is available? Do all classes of people use it?


The most common types of public transportation available include taxis, buses, trains and in some cities, subways. From most of the information I found, buses, which are almost always crowded, seem to be the most prevalent mode of transportation and the most common among all classes of people. Taxis are also increasing in number, but from what I found, one needs to be especially careful that they are not over charged when taking a taxi.


34. Who has the right of way in traffic? Vehicles? Animals? Pedestrians?


Driving etiquette in China is apparently still developing. Traffic is often chaotic, and right-of-way and other courtesies are often ignored. Travelers should note that cars and buses in the wrong lanes have frequent run-ins with pedestrians and bicyclists on sidewalks. Pedestrians should always be careful while walking near traffic.  Road and traffic conditions are generally safe if occupants of modern passenger vehicles wear seatbelts. Most traffic accident injuries involve pedestrians or cyclists who are involved in collisions or who encounter unexpected road hazards.


35. Is military training compulsory?


Yes, China has conscription for both men and women. From what I found, women who are conscripted go to the army for two months and learn to fire guns while men tend to spend more time in the military training. All together, the Chinese military maintains the largest standing army in the world.


34. Who has the right of way in traffic? Vehicles? Animals? Pedestrians?


35. Is military training compulsory?


36. Are the largest newspapers generally friendly in their attitude toward the United States?


37. What is the history of the relationship between this country and the United States?


38. How many people have emigrated from this country to the United States? To other countries?

Are many doing so at present?


39. Are there many American expatriates living in this country? Where do they live?


40. What kinds of health services are available?  Where are they located?


41. What are the common home remedies for minor ailments? Where can medicines be purchased?


The Chinese employ use of primarily herbal remedies for minor ailments including oinments, herbal pills, acupuncture, from flowers, roots, etc. and involves using herbs to treat and prevent mental and physical as well as emotional health. Substances such as Ginkgo are believed to assist memory and forgetfulness through cerebral circulation stimulation; ginger is used for immunity.  These can be found anywhere from the local market to more commercialized forms (pills) and concocted simply in the home or bought off the market.


42. Is education free? Compulsory? Are girls encouraged to attend high school? College?


In the past, students received free university education but upon graduation were required to accept jobs in state-owned industries. The government instituted a pilot program in 1994 whereby the state allowed university students the option of paying their own tuition in exchange for the freedom to find their own jobs after graduation. By the late 1990s, all incoming university students were required to pay their own tuition, although government loans were available.  Leader Mao Zedong encouraged education as a means to reduce the sense of class distinction among the population by reducing social gaps between the manual and mental labor and thus required a balance of manual and book work.  After his death these policies were dropped, but the Cultural Revolution emphasized intellectual traditions and eventually college entrance exams distinguished the more capable selected to go to special elite schools, whereas more and more junior colleges and technical and vocational colleges are being introduced. The Law on Nine-Year Compulsory Education, which took effect July 1, 1986, established requirements and deadlines for attaining universal education tailored to local conditions and guaranteed school-age children the right to receive education. The compulsory education law divided China into three categories: cities and economically developed areas in coastal provinces and a small number of developed areas in the hinterland; towns and villages with medium development; and economically backward areas. January 1986 the State Council drafted a bill passed at the Fourteenth Session of the Standing Committee of the Sixth National People's Congress that made it illegal for any organization or individual to employ youths before they had completed their nine years of schooling. The bill also authorized free education and subsidies for students whose families had financial difficulties. Although girls and women do have access to educational systems and are being encouraged to enter higher educational institutions, the drop out rate of girls (especially rural) is much greater than that of boys.


43. In schools are children segregated by race? By caste? By class? By gender?


Despite the government’s insistence on compulsory education, prohibitive fees are preventing migrant workers’ children from entering the formal education system. Unofficial schools have been set up to cater for these children but this enforced segregation is fostering hostile feelings between the urban and “floating” populations. If more local communities and schools are open and welcoming, they fear even more peasants will be attracted to the cities. The “floating population”, convenient scapegoat for all social ills, is sometimes described as a “powder cake” waiting to explode. Prosperous cities like Beijing and Shanghai have drafted new rules prohibiting migrant workers from any but the simplest jobs.


44. What kinds of schools are considered best? Public? Private? Parochial?


45. In schools how important is learning by rote?


46. Where are the important universities of the country? If university education is sought abroad, to what countries and universities do students go?


The two most important and prestigious schools in China are both found in Beijing. They are Beijing University and Qinghua University.  Many students seek education aboard at a university level. They go to a number of universities in the United States and Europe. The major countries are the U.S., England, Australia, Germany and Japan for abroad education.


47. Is there a strong belief in fate?


China’s belief in fate is mixed. Traditionally, there use to be a strong belief in fate. Many of the Chinese believed in superstitions, which largely was associated with the religions of Buddhism and Daoism.  The idea of these superstitions and fate impacting their lives is slowly fading. In rural farming areas, farmers still correlate some of their luck and production to fate and superstitions though.  Although many throughout the country still believe in fate to some extend the idea is slowly fading and become less of an impact on the people’s lives.  Today, people of China generally associate their success and failures to there own power, not to fate.