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For thousands of years, the Chinese believed that they had created a perfect social system. Dynasties came and went, but the essence of being Chinese remained more or less unchanged until the twentieth century. Following invasion by the Japanese, civil war, and revolution, in 1949 Mao Zedong and the Communists took power. China was largely closed off from the rest of the world, undergoing almost constant revolution at an often terrible price. After Mao’s death in 1976 the country opened its doors to the West and introduced a nascent market economy, called “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” China became the “workshop of the world.” Low wages and a low yuan boosted exports and created jobs for millions.

The spectacular Beijing Olympics of 2008 heralded China’s arrival as an economic superpower. When the world plunged into economic crisis, in China, too, factories closed, but most unemployed workers simply made their way back to the countryside. The patience, diligence, enterprise, and natural optimism that are part of the Chinese character helped tide it over the setback. Since then social and economic development have been astonishing. Under Communist Party direction, the economy moved from export-led growth to home consumption. New mega-cities sprang up, peopled by a generation of city dwellers, light years away from their parents’ rural world. Opinion is divided about the present economic slowdown. Either way, this is a country no one can ignore.

The Chinese have always taken a long-term view of events. They are proud of their ancient civilization and their modern achievements. Among the young, educated, urban elite there is an eagerness to discuss issues that were formerly “off limits.” Culture Smart! China puts these dramatic changes into an historical context, explains deep-seated cultural attitudes, and guides the visitor through a maze of unfamiliar social situations. It will enable you to discover for yourself the warmth, intelligence, humor, and humanity of this extraordinary people.

For thousands of years, the Chinese believed that they had created a perfect social system.
Dynasties came and went, but the essence of being Chinese remained more or less
unchanged until the twentieth century. Following invasion by the Japanese, civil war, and
revolution, in 1949 Mao Zedong and the Communists took power. China was largely closed
off from the rest of the world, undergoing almost constant revolution at an often terrible
price. After Mao’s death in 1976 the country opened its doors to the West and introduced
a nascent market economy, called “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” China became
the “workshop of the world.” Low wages and a low yuan boosted exports and created jobs
for millions.
The spectacular Beijing Olympics of 2008 heralded China’s arrival as an economic
superpower. When the world plunged into economic crisis, in China, too, factories closed,
but most unemployed workers simply made their way back to the countryside. The patience,
diligence, enterprise, and natural optimism that are part of the Chinese character helped
tide it over the setback. Since then social and economic development have been astonishing.
Under Communist Party direction, the economy moved from export-led growth to home
consumption. New mega-cities sprang up, peopled by a generation of city dwellers, light
years away from their parents’ rural world. Opinion is divided about the present economic
slowdown. Either way, this is a country no one can ignore.
The Chinese have always taken a long-term view of events. They are proud of their ancient
civilization and their modern achievements. Among the young, educated, urban elite there
is an eagerness to discuss issues that were formerly “off limits.”
Culture Smart! China puts these dramatic changes into an historical context, explains
deep-seated cultural attitudes, and guides the visitor through a maze of unfamiliar social
situations. It will enable you to discover for yourself the warmth, intelligence, humor, and
humanity of this extraordinary people.

KATHY FLOWER has worked in France, Russia, and China as a BBC radio and TV producer, writer, teacher, and trainer. She lived in Beijing for two years and co-presented China’s first ever English-language teaching series, “Follow Me,” on Chinese TV. The series ran every night for six years and she became known to millions of Chinese viewers as laoshi, or “teacher.” She has been back to China many times since and seen at first hand the extraordinary changes there.


"Culture Smart has come to the rescue of hapless travellers."
Sunday Times Travel

"... the perfect introduction to the weird, wonderful and downright odd quirks and customs of various countries." Global Travel

"...full of fascinating-as well as common-sense-tips to help you avoid embarrassing faux pas." Observer

"...as useful as they are entertaining." Easyjet Magazine

"...offer glimpses into the psyche of a faraway world." New York Times