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China Reflection

Wo Shi Meiguoren - I am American


Wo shi meiguoren, I am American. The United States of America (USA) is the world’s greatest superpower when analyzed from a military, economic, and political standpoint. The USA has a unique relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that has been dubbed “Chimerica”. It is a term that describes the symbiotic relationship that these vastly different countries have. The United States has borrowed more than 1.9 trillion dollars from the PRC, which has become the USA’s largest creditor. While the debt that is owed to the PRC is a large number, it is not an immediate issue because the PRC relies on the USA’s business. The way of life for people in China is impacted by the incredibly low standard of living. While China has the world’s largest GDP, the per capita (per head) is extremely low when compared to the USA. Where Americans can afford to buy a variety of things and take things for granted, the Chinese population is separated by economic class.

Moving from an economic view, each country is interested in what each government is doing. Currently the presidential elections holds the attention of many Chinese citizens because of the impact on the economy as well as the individuals involved (specifically Hillary Clinton). This relationship diminishes when it extends into the culture of the other country. The USA was established in 1776 and the PRC was established in 1949. However, this is the establishment of government and not the culture of each individual place. From an overall standpoint, China has a culture that has persisted through thousands of years while America does not have a culture of its own. They follow the teachings of Confucius and the great general Sunzi. Some of the qualities that are important and emphasized is are the idea of: Benevolence, Justness, Rituals, Wisdom, Royalty, Moral Rightness, and Leadership. Meanwhile, America’s culture does not have a strict basis from which to follow. Within America, there is no creed that dictates how one should live their life. One may argue that the Christian Bible is the source of this, but America has a freedom of religion that should separate church and state. America is a “melting pot” where China is homogenous. 96% of the population consists of the Han ethnicity with the remaining considered “minorities”. As a result, the one-child policy that is widely talked about when discussing China within the United States applies only to the Han ethnicity and not to the minorities. 

Although traditions are preserved, the symbiotic relationship allows for the adoption of Western ideals and fashion. America is held in a very high regard with the country being praised as the city on the hill and called Mei Guo (Beautiful Country) in Mandarin. Beijing and Hangzhou are wealthy cities with the population arguably within the middle class. Through my interactions with people in this class, I have established that they are envious of the freedom that Americans have. There are a number of restrictions imposed on the Chinese populace where your education dictates your social mobility. As an Asian American, the cultural and family values are familiar to me.

Shazif Shaikh

Aerospace Engineering Major, Syracuse University

Shazif Shaikh is an Aerospace Engineering major at Syracuse University with the intention of starting a Computer Science minor in the near future. Currently he is a Resident Advisor at one of Syracuse University's First Year Centers, a Web Developer for Syracuse University, a Robotics Coordinator at York College.

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