The Architectural Marvels of China

by Joe

Visiting some of the world’s greatest architectural achievements is yet another reason to visit China and being an ancient culture, visitors can enjoy a wide variety of ancient, recent and even modern examples of incredible artistry and engineering.
If what you’re after is a trip into the past, there are many fascinating places to visit including the Great Wall, Forbidden City and the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor. Hallmarks of this old style architecture include timberwork combining stone carving, rammed earth construction, bucket arch buildings and many other techniques. Imperial architecture, traditional Chinese residences, Chinese garden architecture and religious architecture. Imperial Palaces were originally built to showcase the extravagant lifestyles of the emperors, as well as to provide a centralized location for demonstrating imperial political control. The imperial palaces were built on a grand scale, sparing no expense to display the majesty and dignity of the imperial power of the time.
The Imperial Palace in Beijing, also known as the Forbidden City, is located in the center of the city of Beijing. The largest ancient palatial architecture in the world is now home to the Palace Museum. Built between 1406 to 1420, the Imperial Palace is a complex composed of 980 preserved ancient wood and stone buildings. The Palace Museum houses and displays artwork, treasures and collectibles from the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) Dynasties.

 

 

After China’s communist revolution in 1949, the country’s architecture began to take on more of a Soviet-era look with “Stalinist” architecture becoming the common approach to new building projects.  Many buildings acquired a sparse look. Solid grey blocks and simple designs characterized many structures of this period.

The New Socialist Buildings Period is exemplified by the Big Ten Buildings, ten monumental buildings constructed in 1959 to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the PRC.  These buildings combine Stalinist architecture with traditional elements of Chinese architecture. structures combine Stalinist architecture, traditional Chinese architecture and modern architecture.  A great place to see this type style of building is at the village of Nanjiecun.  Visiting is like going back in time to China of the 1960’s and 70’s.  This village shows what living in a fully-functioning communal village micro-economy (collective wages and labor units) would have been like.  One can see sweeping concrete plazas and broad, empty streets.  Giant portraits of Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Marx loom over the empty plaza where the principle feature is a large ivory-colored Mao statue in the center.

After China’s communist revolution in 1949, the country’s architecture began to take on more of a Soviet-era look with “Stalinist” architecture becoming the common approach to new building projects.  Many buildings acquired a sparse look. Solid grey blocks and simple designs characterized many structures of this period.

The New Socialist Buildings Period is exemplified by the Big Ten Buildings, ten monumental buildings constructed in 1959 to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the PRC.  These buildings combine Stalinist architecture with traditional elements of Chinese architecture. structures combine Stalinist architecture, traditional Chinese architecture and modern architecture.  A great place to see this type style of building is at the village of Nanjiecun.  Visiting is like going back in time to China of the 1960’s and 70’s.  This village shows what living in a fully-functioning communal village micro-economy (collective wages and labor units) would have been like.  One can see sweeping concrete plazas and broad, empty streets.  Giant portraits of Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Marx loom over the empty plaza where the principle feature is a large ivory-colored Mao statue in the center. Examples of this thrilling style of architecture include the Jin Mao Building and the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai and the National Stadium (the Bird’s Nest), in Beijing.  Some of these buildings have generated considerable controversy, but their status as architectural showpieces familiar to people worldwide is well established.

 

 

In the modern era, China has moved away from its original socialist market orientation and has embraced the market economy.  As China opened up to the world in the 1980s, new architectural styles began to develop that combined elements of all of the older styles while also inventing new elements. The construction of these thoroughly modern and creative structures accelerated during the run-up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2010 Expo in Shanghai as China sought to present a modern face to the world.  Part of this ‘new China’ aesthetic was demonstrated in a world-class architectural showcase of buildings unlike any seen elsewhere.

Modern icons include buildings such as the Jin Mao Building and the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai and the National Grand Theater and the National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, in Beijing. Some of these buildings have generated considerable controversy, but their status as architectural showpieces familiar to people worldwide is well established.

China’s National Stadium, or the Bird’s Nest, as it has become known, is the world’s largest steel structure and the most complex stadium ever constructed. It is “one of the key engineering marvels in the world today.”  The stadium was designed by Swiss Architects, Herzog & de Meuron, and a Chinese Architect, Li Xinggang.  The requirements for its design were that it had to be inspiring and be able to withstand an earthquake.  In order to make the structure ‘light weight’ but earthquake-proof, the strength in 110 000 tons of a new grade of steel, the purest ever developed in China, including 36km of steel struts, was combined with an ingenious design.  The design came from the idea of a single thread wrapped round a ball. Layers of logical geometry give the appearance of randomness and an organic shape. Multiple pentagrams in the interlocking fabric of the elliptical structure are like the stars of the Chinese flag.

Heading to Shanghai?  Be sure to visit the World Financial Center.  It is the world’s tenth tallest building, and the fifth tallest in Mainland China.  Built at a cost of $1.2 billion USD, it stands 101 floors above ground and also includes 3 floors below ground.  The 100th floor features 100th floor observation deck.  This landmark to China’s recent arrival on the world’s economic stage, was actually an Amereican firm, Kohn Pedersen Fox, is managed by the Mori Building Corporation of Japan and was funded by multinational corporations.

Nearby, you’ll also find the 88 story Jin Mao Tower and the Shanghai Tower that towers 400 feet higher than the Shanghai World Financial Center.  These three buildings form a grouping along the Pudong River in the Lujiazui financial district.

One additional example of modern the world’s tallest and longest glass bridge which connects two mountain cliffs in what are known as the “Avatar” mountains (the film was shot here) in Zhangjiajie, Hunan province.  The 6-meter-wide bridge stretches 430 meters over a 300-meter-deep valley between two cliffs in the stunning Zhangjiajie Park.  This bridge was designed by Haim Dotan, an Israeli architectural firm. Gene actually met Mr. Dotan, the creative architect who designed the glass bridge. During their conversation, he shared many creative plans for future projects which incorporate structure into natural landscape.

 

With a history as long as China has, a world of discovery awaits the traveler with an interest in architecture.  If you’re planning a trip there soon, we hope you’ll reach out to Word 4 Asia.  Our vast experience in China travel makes us a resource you will want to explore as you prepare!  Visit us online at word4asia.com for more information.

 

Chinese Students in American Universities

by Joe

Chinese students attending US higher education institutions have increased dramatically over the last dozen years. Starting in 2004, when Chinese student populations across all US universities was slightly over 60,000, attendance has exploded with a 530% increase. In the 2015/16 academic year, Chinese nationals attending American colleges and universities exceeded 330,000! With growth like this, it is not surprising to learn that China leads all other nations in terms of sending their students to our institutions of higher learning. India and Saudia Arabia follow in numbers. In addition, Chinese nationals now represent a little more than half of the total number of foreign students in the US.
Studies on this trend have revealed a number of important contributing factors.

Many Chinese students are attracted to the American system which is based on an open avenue to academic pursuit. Students are free to select any major they desire. The same cannot be said for China where academic test results decide which career paths are open to each student. Another important, contributing factor is China’s economic growth as the nation has adopted more of a market economy. Improvements in relative affluence have made it possible for China’s wealthier families to educate their youth in our nation.

As attractive as Chinese students do find our education system, the experience is still a struggle in many ways for these foreign learners. The research shows that there are five factors that have the most impact on a Chinese student’s success in US colleges and universities. The first factor is ‘personal dynamic’ – this is another term for internal motivation. Elements include a desire to study abroad, career goals and social status aspirations. ‘Reverse motivation’ includes parental influence, international experience and demographics. ‘Globalization’ is a measure of a student’s relative degree of Westernization prior to starting the college experience or the desire to adopt Western culture once residing in the US. ‘Outlying factors’ include status of relationships and knowledge of study abroad opportunities.

Language also plays a major role in a Chinese student’s success in our country. Many Chinese students have difficulty adapting because language education in China is focused on written not oral communication. Even with the focus on the written word, the sheer volume of reading and writing required in US programs makes education here a daunting prospect for any non-native speaker, not just limited to the Chinese! Finally, there is a very wide cultural divide between China’s millennia old culture, steeped in tradition and Confucianism and our western traditions, values and way of life here in the USA.

As a new academic year begins, Word 4 Asia welcomes all Chinese students to our nation and our colleges and universities.  Next to actually traveling to China, we suggest there may be no better way to learn about Chinese culture than to open your home to a Chinese student.  Your family can play a role in helping a Chinese student learn about our way of life too.  We know you’ll enjoy and prosper from the experience!

Travel Tips For Successful Trips to China

by Joe

Word 4 Asia has extensive experience arranging and leading group trips into China.  With all our experience in this area, we’ve amassed quite a list of useful travel tips on how to have the most enjoyable travel experience there.  Since we recently blogged about the experiences our Chinese counterparts have had traveling in our own fair country, we thought we’d share some of our favorite travel tips to those of you who may be planning your own trip to this exotic, and fascinating destination.  Bon Voyage!

Must See Sites

The Great Wall of China

If you are planning  your first trip to China, there are four “must see” destinations we recommend for you.  These include:  Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an and Guilin.

Beijing is China’s capital city and here you can climb the Great Wall, one of the ‘eight wonders of the world’ and the only man-made feature visible from space.  No trip to Beijing is complete without taking in the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven or the Summer Palace.

Shanghai is the largest city in China and is a great example of China’s modern architecture.  There are also many historical sites there including Jing’an Temple, take the Huangpu River Cruise and ride an elevator to the top of the Pearl Tower, one of the tallest television towers in Asia and the world.  Also, don’t miss the Yuyuan Garden!

Xi’an is the birthplace of Chinese culture.  Rich in history and ancient architecture, visitors can see the Ancient City Wall, the Terracotta Soldier Tomb site (not Army) and Mount Hua.

Guilin is home to one of the world’s great national parks, the Li River Scenic Area.  It is resplendent in its graeful watery wonders with karsts, limestone cones, cylinders and hills, plus the unique multiple minority ethnic features and cultural sites. Giulin also has the magnificent Longji Rice Terraces.

Best Times of Year to Travel

Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area

If your schedule allows you to choose the time of year you might be able to travel to China, we would recommend going in either the Spring or Fall.  China’s summers can be extremely hot and humid and their winters are likewise very cold in the Northern regions.  On the other hand, we’ve arranged many pleasant trips to China in the March through May and September through November periods.

We highly recommend visiting regions south of the Yangtze River in March.  The spring flowers appear and the weather, although a little drizzly, make Shanghai, Yangzhou, Suzhou and Hangzhou beautiful and totally worth the visit.

Guilin, Xi’an and the Yellow Mountains are wonderful to visit in April.  It’s a time of blossoms, such as the peach blossoms which appear in Guilin during April.  Likewise, while you’re in the area, you’ll enjoy the karst landforms along the Li River which are naturally decked out in new shades of green from the rain.

In May, the Yunnan Province is a place where you can retrace ancient life, enjoy clean blue skies, visit mysterious Tibetan monasteries and take in the beauty of azaleas or the massive snow-capped mountains!

They grow delicious, mouth-watering melons and fruits in Xinjiang and these are at ripe perfection in September.

An October visit to the Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area is a memorable treat.  In October, its decorated with colorful trees whose leaves have turned golden, red, blackish green and yellow.  These stunning trees reflect off of the light blue pools there.  Breath taking!

If you’re in China in November, you should really visit Guizhou and be sure to stop in one of the Miao villages to experience their colorful customs and participate in the Lusheng Festival.

Visas

Tourist Visa to China

Visitors to China do require travel visas.  There are four different types; an F visa is used by business travelers.  Students require an X visa, tourists will require an L visa and crews of international airplanes, trains and ships must carry a C visa.  Likewise, there are three different types of entry/ re-entry privileges associated with each type of visa; single entry, double entry and multiple entry.  This last type of visa allows visitors to come and go at will during the life of their visa.  Visas extend from six months to as long as one year before their expiration.  It normally requires four days to process a tourist visa request and a there is a $140 processing fee.  Travelers to China should register with the US State Department before their trip in order to alert the local embassies that they are traveling in China.  On registering, you will receive a list of the US embassy or mission closest to your destination.

 

Language Barriers

Many Chinese citizens, especially in the urban centers, learn English as part of their education.  By speaking clearly and slowly, you should be able to conduct simple, basic communication.  However, for a successful trip, its also a good idea to equip yourself with these ten essential Chinese phrases.

How are you?

Chinese: Nǐ hǎo ma? (Nee-haoww-mah?) 你好

This literally means “You good?” (nǐ = you, hǎo = good, ma = ?). It can also mean “Are you ok?”

“Nǐhǎo” (no ‘ma’) is also common.  It typically means something like ‘It’s you — good.” or “Nice to see you.” It’s the most basic and standard Chinese greeting.

Wèi  (way) , mostly used on the ‘phone, is the closest Chinese to “hello” or “hi ”

 

Good or bad?

Chinese: Hǎobùhǎo? (haoww-boo-haoww)  好不好

Hǎo means ‘good’. Hǎo also means “ok”.

Bùhǎo means ‘not good’. (“Bu” means ‘no’ or ‘not’.) Chinese speakers use “hǎo” and “buhao” to say something is good or bad, and to signal agreement or disagreement.

Combining “hǎo” and “bùhǎo” gives “Hǎobùhǎo?”, which is a question. It means ‘Good or not good?’ or ‘Is it ok?’ After this or “Nǐ hǎo ma?” you can reply “hǎo” or “bùhǎo”.

 

Do you have …?

Chinese: Yǒuméiyǒu …? (Yoh-may-yoh) 有没有 …?

Yǒu means ‘have’, and méiyǒu means “to not have”. The word méi means lack. So the phrase “yǒuméiyǒu …” literally means “have or not have …?”

 

How much money?

Chinese: Duōshao qián? 多少 (Dwor-sshaoww chyen?)

The phrase “duōshao?” is composed of the words duō (much) and shǎo (few), and means “how much?” or “how many?” Qián means ‘money’.

 

Where is …?

Chinese: … zài nǎlǐ? (… dzeye naa-lee?) …在哪里

The three words are: zài (on or in), nǎ (where or which), and lǐ (inside or very roughly the word “place”). Put the name of the place or object you want to find before zài nǎlǐ.

 

I want to go to …

Chinese: Wǒ xiǎng qù… (Wor sshyang chyoo …) 我想去 …

The three words are: wǒ (I), xiǎng (want), and qù (to go). Then add the name of the place. This is useful for buying train tickets, taking a taxi, etc.

 

Bathroom

Chinese: Cèsuǒ. (tser-swor) 厕所

“Cè” means ‘toilet’. “Suǒ” means ‘place’.

 

Thank you

Chinese: Xièxie. (sshyeah-sshyeah)  

 

I’m sorry.

Chinese: Duìbuqǐ. (dway-boo-chee) 对不起

This phrase can be used both to apologize and to ask for repetition. It literally means “I didn’t begin correctly.” or “You’re right, that isn’t upright.”

 

What is that?

Chinese: Zhè shì shénme? (Jer shrr shnn-muh?) 这是什么?

This is a good way to both indicate your interest in an item and to learn a lot of new words.

The three important words are: Zhè (this), shì (is), and shénme (what). Combined with pointing, “Zhè shì shénme?” can be used to find out what things are called.

 

Whatever time of year you choose to visit China, having a trusted and experienced partner can make your trip  more successful.  Word 4 Asia has been conducting trips to China for large and small groups alike with great success.  We have an extensive network of China-based partners across mainland China, are experts in Chinese culture, have native language experts on staff and are ready to assist.   If you are interested in learning more about how Word 4 Asia can help your group make the most of your China plans, please contact us at gene@word4asia.com.

The Language of Trust; Differences Between the West and China

by Joe

Western businesses trying to build their businesses in China must learn to network the Chinese way.  There are four very important concepts that Western managers must adjust to.  These are captured in the Chinese language as guanxi, yuanfen, renqing and mianzi.  These terms capture some fundamental differences in between the Chinese and Westerners in how each culture establishes trust in business.  Since there can be no business exchange without trust, successfully adapting to these differences can mean success or failure for Westerners who want to do business in China.

Let’s define these terms.  Guanxi is about building a network of mutually beneficial relationships which can be used for personal and business purposes.  In China, it is necessary to spend time getting to know your Chinese counterparts outside the boardroom during tea sessions and dinner banquets.  Guanxi is closely associated with the term yuanfen.  The idea behind yuanfen is that some relationships are predestined, and some people are pulled together by the mysterious forces of the universe. While many younger Chinese only give credence to the romantic implications of yuanfen, older and more traditionally minded Chinese are much more likely to view yuanfen as relevant to all relationships, including business and politics.  With yuanfen as an underlying assumption, you can see that guanxi requires that these relationships people are building are built on affections for each other.  While Americans typically maintain some separation between their personal and professional lives, Chinese tend to establish almost family-like bonds with their business associates.  This distinction between trust from the heart and from the head turned out to be the key to understanding the difference between Chinese and American networks.

One study measured executives’ willingness to do time-consuming favors for each person in their network. The researchers found that the Americans were much more likely to do favors for people who were in a position to be of significant assistance to them. The Chinese executives, on the other hand, were willing to extend themselves to help people who had little to offer in return.

One 2006 MBA study, reported by “Ideas at Work” magazine, focused on willingness to do time-consuming favors within a business network. The researchers found that Americans are much more likely to do favors for people who were in a position to be of significant assistance to them. The Chinese executives, on the other hand, were willing to extend themselves to help people who had little to offer in return.  This is a reflection of the more emotional nature of Chinese business relationships but it also reveals another important cultural distinction between the West and China; mianzi.  Mianzi is the Chinese word for “face”.  The idea is that if you do favors for people in your community, within the circle of people that you interact with, it increases your face — the esteem that the community collectively ascribes to you.

These cultural differences between the West and China are partially explained by differences in the strength of our laws in each nation.  For millennia, China has lacked a strong rule of law. Because the law has not often been able to provide the legal protections which it does in the west, Chinese people needed to develop another means of ensuring trust amongst themselves in personal and business matters.  In the absence of strong rule of law, the Chinese culture developed more organic forms of gaining conformity.

Word 4 Asia specializes in building successful relationships throughout mainland China.  If your organization is looking for assistance in this area, please reach out to us at 714) 769-9114 or email us at info@word4asia.com

 

Post Covid-19 Economic Recovery In China

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an economic crisis in every economy in the world.  Here, in the United States, we are experiencing an …’.

 

Read More

 

Confronting the Covid-19 Challenge

Our blog this month describes how mainland China and Hong Kong have each been able to successfully ‘flatten the (Covid-19) curve’.

 

Read More

 

China’s Aging Population

By 2050, 25% of China’s population will be over 65 years old.  This situation is the number one economic problem that China will face moving forward. 

 

Read More



Word4AsiaWord4Asia

& nbsp; Word 4 Asia proudly conforms to IMC USA's ethical principles.

Word4AsiaWord4Asia

Copyright © 2017 - Word4Asia