By Angie Eagan, Rebecca Weiner
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Extra resources for Culture Shock! China: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette, 2nd Edition
Mao’s death left China with no one at the helm, resulting in a brief but significant power struggle among the highest ranks of the Party. The battle was between the hard-liners, more moderate reformers and the radicals. It was won by a well-known name, Mr Deng Xiaoping, and his supporters. The year 1978 marked Deng’s third return to prominence, having lost favour twice before. 26 CultureShock! ’ This acknowledgment of the power for positive change that the accumulation of wealth can provide is a mantra that still guides many of the white-collar professionals working the halls of any one of the international businesses in China today.
54 CultureShock! China With exposure to new ideas, such traditional ‘us-them’ attitudes are starting to shift in China. As present, though, from the Western perspective, Chinese people are a little over-involved and meddling in their relations with family and friends, and surprisingly rude to strangers. Of course, from the Chinese perspective, in a commonly repeated phrase, Westerners ‘treat strangers like friends and their family like strangers’. There is no doubt some truth to both perspectives.
If, like most businesspeople assigned to China, you have an ayi (cleaning lady and/or nanny), live in an apartment complex with tended grounds and gardens, and work in an office building where cleaning crews scrub the bathrooms and sweep the halls, you will see some of the floating population around you every day. If you speak a little Chinese, you may find their stories fascinating. Many are, for instance, more educated than meets the eye. They may have been schoolteachers or nurses in their home villages, but may earn more for their families scrubbing toilets for ten months in Shanghai than they could for several years at home.