Cultures have several things in common. Various societies have come up with a number of cultural practices in order to enhance survival. Most of these practices trace back to ancient period (Miller, 2010). Chinese culture is among the largest and oldest cultural globally. This culture traces back to 5000 years ago, when China was referred as “Cerestral Empire”. This term was used (and is still used in the contemporary world) to define a region where mortal power and divinity once co-existed. In the contemporary world, several researchers have explored the Chinese cultural trend with an aim of gaining a comprehensive understanding of several aspects. Groups subscribing to the Chinese culture are perceived strongly attached to their traditional practices.
Chinese culture traces back its origin to more than 5000 years ago. After several years of migration, integration and growth, Chinese society was finally established. This culture is renowned for its distinctive practices in art, philosophy, writing, language and political structure. In such a case, integration of the listed activities founded the Chinese culture. This culture started from a “Yellow Emperor” family. This prominent emperor was renowned for great wisdom and power. He ensured that his family remained united by instilling strict ethical standards. His leadership was governed by strict principles and punitive measures for law defaulters. Although history does not explain the punitive approach employed by the Yellow Empower, Li Kang (2013) insists that the modern disciplinary approach traces its origin to this ancient period. In the Yellow Emperor, Chinese cultural elements such as Suiren, Cangjie and Shennong were created. Each of these characters was given a role to play in the society. For instance, Shennong was required to instill knowledge about agricultural activities. Cangjie was supposed to implant moral characters on societal members. Suiren, on the other side, taught the society how to make and use fire.
Chinese culture emerged from Zhou, Shang and Xia Empire. In the medieval society, these empires were renowned for slavery. Xia constituted the earliest Chinese culture. Most of the Chinese cultures that contemporary China promoted were borrowed from Zhou culture. In 1919, culture moved to a new cultural era, where most of the old traditional practices and beliefs were abolished and replaced by new cultural systems.
In the era of Zhou, Shang, and Xia Empire, several thinkers and philosophers emerged. This is the period when Confucianism sprang. Through the guidelines provided by Confucianism, the Chinese people were able to define ethics and standards that remain relevant in modern society. The emperors also adopted Confucianism in order to promote effective leadership. However, the significance of Confucianism reduced significantly after the collapse of Qing dynasty. Despite this tremendous fall, Confucianism principles and standards continue to guide the modern Chinese society.
Three prominent Chinese religions are Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Each of these religious groups attracted a large group of followers to the culture. In effort to lure followers to their groups, religious conflicts have been reported in ancient and modern China. For instance, in ancient times, the Taoist argued that they were the source of Chinese civilization. When Confucianism emerged, their main theme was individual and family moral values. In their teachings, the Confucius highlighted the guiding principles that were essential in Chinese dynasty. In order to be a leader in Confucianism religion, an individual was required to abide by their teachings and understand the Confucian ethical codes and classics.
Buddhism was introduced in China in 67 AD. After originating from India, Buddhism established a strong religious foundation in China. This religious group emphasized on mediation and salvation. In such a case, the Buddhism teachings have a strong influence on the Chinese culture, and their teachings continue to guide modern contemporary China. Between 600 and 900 AD, the religious teachings of the three groups reached their peak. This period marked the pinnacle of Chinese evolution.
The main source of influence for Chinese culture is religious teachings. These teachings have instilled rich and insightful system of values to modern Chinese people. For instance, Buddhism teachings mainly emphasize on the concept of equality between nature and man. Buddhism further maintains that, in order for human beings to have a destiny, they should show respect to their gods. The three religions further guide followers on five basic qualities of faithfulness, wisdom, propriety, righteousness, and benevolence. These basic religious teachings remain respected in the contemporary Chinese society.
Cultural Ethnicity and Language
Li Kang (2013) emphasizes that the idea of being a Chinese is not centered on race. Rather, the Chinese culture maintains that a person belongs to this society by upholding their cultural believes. For instance, for an individual to be termed as a Chinese, he has to speak the same language and abide by their cultural standards. Thus, after acquiring these qualifications, an individual is referred as a son of Han. In the past, it is believed that small ethnic groups that came into contact with Han ended up embracing Chinese cultural practices. This shows that the Chinese culture was once small, and developed into large one through attracting other foreign cultural groups. This trend continues in the modern society. However, various legislations have been established in order to protect small groups from absorption or intimidation (Zhuang, 2013).
In the past, minority groups in China consisted of people sharing the same language, lived in the same territory, and adopted similar social standards. Common minority groups in the Chinese culture include Loboa and Zhuang. In modern society, this definition has changed. As a result, the minority groups consist of people that do not share similar values with the Han majority group. According to Li Kang (2013), population in these minority cultural groups continues to increase. For instance, in 1977, the total population of all minority groups was 47 million. This population increased to 66 million by the end of 1983. However, Li Kang (2013) insists that the percentage of this population (in comparison to the entire Chinese population) is reducing in comparison to the Han cultural group. Between 1977 and 1983, the percentage had reduced from 6.4 percent to 6.1 percent. This is based on the fact the Han Chinese population is increasing at a high rate in comparison to the minority groups.
Zhuang (2013) explains that, while the minority groups represents a relatively small percentage of the total Chinese population, they remain significant and influential to the Chinese culture. For instance, these minority groups occupy a strategic region in China. Several minority groups reside near the sparingly inhabited frontiers and have developed cultural connections with small neighboring groups in Thailand, Mongolia, North Korea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan. Hostility of these minority groups has a significant impact on security of the large Han majority group (Chinese cultural group). In order to promote peaceful coexistence between the Han cultural group and minority groups, the government has welcomed views from minority societies before formulating the legislative guidelines. Therefore, contemporary Chinese government has formulated its legislations in such a way that it addresses the issue of inequality and discrimination against minority groups. The administrative system is also structured in a way that promotes identity distinctiveness. This move has prevented integration of the minority groups into the larger Han cultural group of China. Moreover, the Han cultural group recognizes Putonghua (a language that originated from a minority group) as one of the national languages. This language is used together with Mandarin and Hanyu. This language is taught to Han and all minority groups. This is a way of promoting harmonious coexistence between Han and minority groups.
In conclusion, this analysis shows that China is home to several small groups united by common cultural practices. The cultural practices of minority groups play a significant role in shaping Chinese culture. By encouraging nationalization and use of several languages from minority groups, the government has played a significant role in promoting integration among diverse groups. Although Mandarin and Hanyu are the main native languages used by the Han majority, the nation continues to encourage use of Putonghua. Despite the diversity inherent in this society, these people remain united by their common beliefs and cultural systems. In contemporary society, Chinese people continue to adopt and promote new values and standards. However, this society remains strongly attached to the ancient traditions still supported in contemporary China.
Li Kang; M. (2013). A Historical Survey on Modernization of Chinese Culture. Asian Social Science 9 (4): 129-132.
Miller, B.(2010). Cultural Anthropology. (6th Edition). Pearson. 456 pages.
Zhuang, G. (2013). Chinese Studies in History. Spring 46 (3): 79-94.