Chinese Students Choosing Western over Chinese Etiquette

Chinese Students Choosing Western over Chinese Etiquette

Professor: Students need more Chinese etiquette education

from 2008-12-04

BEIJING, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) — A professor from Tsinghua University’s Department of History in Beijing on Thursday called on educationalists to teach students traditional Chinese etiquette.

Peng Lin, whose courses “Ancient Chinese Etiquettes” and “Classic Cultural Relics and Chinese Culture” have been listed as “National Excellent Courses”, said that universities and schools should offer more courses on traditional Chinese etiquette and customs.

“As China enjoys the fruit of economic growth, many Chinese people, especially the young, have lost some traditions because of influences of Western cultures, particularly the American culture,” said 59-year-old Peng.

“Young people often look to Western customs and etiquette as being fashionable and overlook Chinese traditions,” Peng said with great concern.

Being national excellent courses, a high honor from the Ministry of Education, Peng’s courses attracted nearly 1,500 Tsinghua students, who have long been regarded as among the country’s smartest, in this year’s autumn term alone.

“Professor Peng’s vivid way of teaching Chinese etiquette is very memorable,” said a student named Li Jianbin. “I realized I have neglected many traditions, like wedding customs.”

Traditional Chinese weddings feature red gowns for brides, and white is an absolute taboo as it is used in funerals. But, today, most young women choose to wear Western-style white dresses and veils at weddings.

To demonstrate his determination, Peng now only wears a commonly seen type of Chinese suit, with a front opening and a stand-up collar.

“I still have some Western suits in my closet,” Peng said. “But I almost never wear them now.”

According to Peng, 99 percent of Chinese college students have not had systematic training on etiquette, especially Chinese etiquette.

“Professors from some other universities, like Peking University, have also been trying to raise students’ awareness of traditional etiquette,” said Peng.

“The future of Chinese culture depends on whether the people can inherit and further develop it, most importantly the younger generation,” Peng said.

Editor: Zheng E

Note from Cynthia: While understanding and accepting the cultures of others, I believe it is equally as important to respect and practice your own culture’s etiquette.