History - AustralianAustralian CultureCultural Comparisons Between Australia and other Countries

Country comparison home

Share |

Cultural awareness: to stereotype or not?

Emotion & innovation

Group vs individual

Tradition & change

Cults of multiculturalism

Warden & Convicts

Failed revolutionaries

Thinkers and Drinkers

Immigration and emmigration

Colonial masters

India Cultural Differences Between Australia and India
Convicts and Maharajas

Samurai & Convicts

New Zealand
Convicts vs Do gooders

Papua New Guinea
Chiefs and Elites

East or west?

South Africa
Kaffirs and Convicts

Coolies and Convicts

South Korea
The middle-powers

"Australians appear very naive to the newly-arrived Japanese. They speak the same way with everyone."
Hiro Mukai - Japanese

"Australians risked becoming ‘the poor white trash of Asia."
Lee Kuan Yew - Singaporean

"I can personally affirm that to stand before an audience of beaming Australians and make even the mildest quip about a convict past is to feel the feel the air conditioning immediately elevated."Bill Bryson - American

"You have no need to feel iffy about a country where "relaxation is the aim". There's nothing to be worried about if "no worries" is your mantra. People have killed for less."
Soumya Bhattacharya - Indian

" What sort or peculiar capitalist country is this in which the workers' representatives predominate in the upper house....and yet the capitalist system is in no danger?"
Vladimir Lenin- Russian

"You feel free in Australia. There is great relief in the atmosphere - a relief from tension, from pressure, an absence of control of will or form. The skies open above you and the areas open around you"
D.H Lawrence - English

" The Australian, who are the men our troops have had opposite them so far, are extraordinarily tough fighters. The German is more active in the attack, but the enemy stakes his life in the defence and fights to the last with extreme cunning."
Major Ballerstedt - German

"New Zealanders who emigrate to Australia raise the IQ of both countries."
Robert Muldoon - New Zealander


Cultural Differences Between Australia and China

Cultural Differences between Australia and China


Population 1,373,541,278 (July 2016 est) 22,992,654 (July 2016 est.)
GDP per capita ($US) $14,600 (20016 est.) $48,800 (2016 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 8.6%
industry: 39.8%
services: 51.6%
agriculture: 3.6%
industry: 28.2%
services: 68.2% (2016 est.)
Racial groups Han Chinese 91.5%, Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uyghur, Tujia, Yi, Mongol, Tibetan, Buyi, Dong, Yao, Korean, and other nationalities 8.5% (2000 census) English 25.9%, Australian 25.4%, Irish 7.5%, Scottish 6.4%, Italian 3.3%, German 3.2%, Chinese 3.1%, Indian 1.4%, Greek 1.4%, Dutch 1.2%, other 15.8% (includes Australian aboriginal .5%), unspecified 5.4%
Export partners US 18%, Hong Kong 14.6%, Japan 6%, South Korea 4.5% (2015) China 32.2%, Japan 15.9%, South Korea 7.1%, US 5.4%, India 4.2% (2015)

From CIA World Fact Book


Nomadic hominids roamed China for around 850,000 years. Around 10,000 years ago, agriculture developed between the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers of northern China. The first dynasty (the Xia) has been traced to around 2070 BCE when a group of people reduced the damage to crops caused by flooding, which in turn led to greater agricultural output and more military power. Around 1600 BCE in the Shang dynasty, descendants of the Xia invented bronze metal working and developed a writing system. The improvements in technology further increased their power and in turn resulted in an expansion of territory. This was expanded even further in the subsequent Zhou dynasty on the back hydraulic engineering and iron casting.

Chinese dynasties

The Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasties increased territory on the back of innovation in metal work and irrigation.

An invasion by Mongols in 260BC from the north caused the break up of the Zhou dynasty into different warring states. The wars came to an end when the Qin (Ch'in) emperor invaded neighboring kingdoms, unified the country, standardised the writing system, and built the first Great Wall. Although the Qin dynasty was short lived, it gave China its contemporary name and many of the symbolic elements that are used by Chinese today (such as the Terracotta Warriors.)

The millennia following the fall of the Qin is generally regarded as the high point of the Chinese civilisation relative to the rest of the world. It was a time of technological progress, engagement with the outside world, intellectual discussion and overall prosperity.

 In the 13th century, northern China came under attack from Mongolian nomads and eventually succumbed to them giving rise to the Yuan Dynasty. Han Chinese regained control of China under the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century, but the new rulers were far more insular than those who had gone before. To prevent further invasions from the north, they built 8,850 km of wall. Furthermore, in the early 15th century, China was the leading naval power in the world by a considerable margin. For unknown reasons, the Ming emperor ordered that the fleet be destroyed.

With such inward thinking, it was inevitable that China would fall again. This occurred in the 17th century when the Machus (Qing) from the north bribed a general to let them through the wall and they quickly defeated Ming forces. The new rulers were governed by the same insularity, which in turn stifled progress and innovation. In the 19th century, European powers and Japan started invading to carve up Chinese territory for themselves.

In 1911, the last emperor of China fell. In the chaos of the subsequent years, provinces such as Tibet and Xijiang declared independence and Japan increased its control over northern China. Disharmony gave rise to a Communist rebellion that joined with the Chinese Nationalists to expel the Japanese. After expelling the Japanese, the Communists defeated the Nationalists. For the first time in almost 500 years, the majority Han people were again in control of China.

In 1958, the Communist Party Chairman, Mao Zedong, decided that China should be transformed from an agricultural society to an industrial collective in what he referred to as the Great Leap Forward. The decline in agricultural production led to an estimated 40 million Chinese dying in famine. With China in chaos and members of the Communist Party wanting his head, in 1966, Mao launched the Cultural Revolution. This aimed to purge China of its dissidents, its old ideas, its elitist elements and most important of all, Mao's enemies. It left China in ruins.

Mao died in 1976. His successor, Deng Xiaoping, was also his enemy. Rather than defame Mao's memory, Deng blamed Mao’s wife and three of her associates for Mao’s actions. Two were executed and two were sentenced to life in prison. As for Mao, Deng undid his policies by opening up China to the world; however, to prevent an endless cycle of retribution, the party adopted the position that Mao was 70% good and 30% bad. This allowed Mao to remain a symbol of China standing up to foreign invaders without denying the damage his policies caused China.

Buddha statues in Datong with drill holes. Tour guides say the holes were drilled so special chemicals could be put in the rock to strengthen it. A cynic would say that perhaps the holes were drilled during the Cultural Revolution and designed to hold a less-than-constructive explosive.

Although Australia's history is quite different to China's, it has produced some modern day commonalities. For 50,000 years, nomadic humans roamed Australia. They probably never built cities because Australia lacked a high yield agricultural crop to build a civilisation around.

Between the 15th and 17th centuries, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, Indonesian and Spanish reached Australia, took a look at the barren landscape populated by nomads and then kept sailing. In the 18th century, the English arrived, took a look around and decided Australia would make a great place to punish criminals. For the next 80 years, England dumped its Convicts in Australia.

The type of criminals dumped in Australia were very similar to the type of people that supported Chairman Mao in the Communist uprising. They were political rebels and the poor who lacked food to eat. They also found themselves alienated from an elitist class that treated them with contempt. Just as they did in China, the left-wingers of Australia responded by championing progressive ideals in the belief that equality could only be achieved via the destruction of the past. However, they were never able to fully enforce their ideals because the British had implemented a parliamentary system that diversified power and forced community consultation. The result was a system of government that addressed some of the problems that led to communist rebellions without suffering the damage caused by communist rebellions. This unique mix was noted by Vladimir Lenin, the father of the Russian revolution, who said of Australia:

" What sort or peculiar capitalist country is this in which the workers' representatives predominate in the upper house....and yet the capitalist system is in no danger?"

Worker domination in parliament resulted in the Australian economy evolving under an ideology of protectionism and socialism. The protectionist policies ensured Australia's unions would not be undermined by companies importing foreign labour and that Australian industries would not be subjected to competition from foreign produce. The socialist policies ensured that governments would have a monopoly on education, transport, telecommunication, banking and power generation. Commencing in the 1980s, the protectionist and socialist policies were dismantled in favour of economic liberalism.

Gender Identity

For almost 1000 years, China had a foot binding culture in which young girls had their feet tightly bound in order to make them small. The goal was aesthetic beauty; however, it stifled women’s potential to work and earn an income. The consequence was that China’s families valued boys over girls.

Aside from leading to boys being valued more than girls, the economic potential of boys led to gender expectations within the family unit. Girls were sold a bit like a cow and became part of her husband’s family unit where she would do housework and take a caring role for his parents and their children. Meanwhile, the boys would study hard in the aim of earning a high income. They would then be able to get/buy a good wife that could help care for his parents and children.

The valuing of boys over girls was in turn reflected in the gender imbalance caused by the one-child policy. Specifically, the illegal abortion of female foetuses has resulted in around 30 million more males than females in China today.

Ironically, the one –child policy has actually liberated women from many of the cultural traits that impeded their economic potential. Specifically, those parents that didn’t abort their female foetuses devoted resources to their female child that they would not have if they had had a boy. The girls subsequently entered the competitive Chinese schooling system with their parents pushing them to aim for the sky. The result has been the creation of brilliant Chinese women who succeed in most fields of endeavour. Admittedly, politics is still dominated by men, which can be somewhat attributed to the importance of activities associated building guanxi (social connections). Many of these activities are of a "nightlife" nature that women can not easily be part of. The lack of representation does not reflect abilities or inclination.

Aside from encouraging parents to put greater resources into their girls, the one-child policy has arguably made girls more economically advantageous than boys. To be more precise, if parents only have one child and the child is a daughter, it is no longer practical to sell her off to another family. As a result, daughters are retaining stronger links with their biological parents after marriage than in the past and supporting their parents in the process. Meanwhile, the lack of women has forced many parents to increase their financial support to their sons in the hope he can get a wife. This support is often expected to include buying him an apartment and car in the hope this will make him more attractive to women.


foot binding

From the 10th century until the early 20th century, the practice of foot binding stifled the economic potential of women and instead positioned them as objects of beauty. In conflict with the positioning of the women as beauty objects was the mythological story of Mulan; a woman who posed as a man and joined the army to save her father.

In Australia, there is a saying that the men are tough but the women are tougher. Certainly in the colonial era, Convict women had to endure extreme hardships. They responded with civic activism that resulted in Australia being the first country in the world to give women the vote and the right to enter parliament. It has always been common for women to work in the private sector. In the public sector, however, there was a cultural value that married women should be housewives. As a consequence, it was not until 1966 that married women were legally allowed to work in the Australian public service.

Within the family unit, there has never really been a cultural valuing of boys over girls nor has there ever been a culture of selling daughters to other families. Furthermore, there are few financial obligations between parents and children. Instead, once children turn 18, they generally try to move towards financial independence with little cultural expectation to financially support their parents. This independence can be partially attributed to state welfare that allows children and parents that suffer financial hardship to survive without family support.

As for what constitutes a “good woman”, Australian women reflect the different pushes and pulls that define what a "model" woman should be like. For example, Australian women are prone to spend thousands on fashion and go to great lengths to look good, but then get angry if they are appreciated for anything other their personality.  

Two high profile career women in Australia have a feud over the colour of their clothes.  

Baby Formula

For various socioeconomic reasons, Chinese mothers have a bias towards baby formula while Australian mothers prefer breast milk. One reason that Chinese prefer formula is that they are more likely to rely upon extended families for the care of their newborns.  Not only does formula make it easier to leave the babies with others, it also makes it easier for the family carers to bond with babies. In Australia, by contrast, generous maternity leave provisions from both the private and public sector employers results in more mothers taking time off work to be with their babies. Furthermore, there is less of a cultural ethic of extended families helping with child raising, which decreases the need for formula.  

A second reason for Chinese demand for baby formula is that baby formula companies have been very aggressive with their advertising strategies. Like all advertising, sometime logical facts are communicated but more often the advertisements appeal to some kind of emotion. The relative scientific merits of formula versus breast milk subsequently becomes irrelevant and mothers simply feel they need formula. In contrast, baby formula advertising is banned in Australia as a very vocal segment of the population is very hostile to it. (Many Australians have even joined international boycotts of Nestlé  because of its formula advertising in foreign countries.) Instead, public health care nurses are very assertive in promoting the benefits of breast milk over formula. Like some of the advertising in China, their promotion is often based on emotion rather than a logical assessment of the situation or even the relative merits of formula.

National Identity

In the 1960s, the Communist Party of China considerd China's history to be both elitist and repressive. Today, it is common to hear Chinese express pride that they come from 5,000 years of history. The inconsistencies between attitudes to history and the expression of identity across times finds expressionism in much of China’s modern art that juxtaposes the inconsistencies.

Beijing artist Zhao Jianhua paints pictures of Chairman Mao branded with a Nike swosh. The pairing of incongruent ideas is a common theme in contemporary Chinese art and reflects a desire to make sense of different conceptions of the Chinese identity.

From 1644 to 1912, China  was ruled by the minority Qing Dynasty which imposed its minority culture on the Han majority. The Dynasty was so prescriptive that the Han men were forced to wear their hair in the favoured Manchurian style of shaved at the front and pony tail at the back lest they be executed. Han men continued to wear the Mancu style - even in Australian goldfields.

China Que

The shaved front head and braided pony tail was a haircut imposed on Chinese by the Manchu invaders.

The Qing Dynasty was weakened as colonial powers from Europe and Japan carved up China and Manchuria for themselves. Finally, a people’s revolt led by Sun Yat-sen succeeded in realising a Chinese republic. Towards the end of his life, Sun proposed that the west was hegemonic (operated via the exercise of power) while the east was Confucian (a philosophy encompassing a number of values relating to respect for the family and education). He also proposed that colonialism could be resisted with the Confucian Asianism that united Asian countries. Sun’s proposal proved to be ironic when fellow Confucian nation Japan started extending their Asian conquests from Manchuria into China, which escalated into a full blown war that culminated with the Communist Revolution in 1949.

Communist China was led by Mao Zedong who had whole heartedly embraced Karl Marx’s view that the working class identity was the only identity that mattered. To ensure adherence to a transnational working class identity, in the 1960s Mao launched the Cultural Revolution which aimed to destroy religious, national and even gender-based identities that could dilute passion for the working class identity. The Cultural Revolution resulted in churches, temples and mosques being destroyed, women masculinised and mass produced boiler suits being worn by almost the entire population. The Cultural Revolution was a disaster on multiple levels. Furthermore, the transnational Communist identity was never achieved as deteriorating relations between China and Russia saw military conflict between the two nations in 1969. China later went to war with Vietnam in 1979 as the fellow Communist country was accused of being too sympathetic to Russia.

Five Teachers

Communism in China did make some attempts to put global citizenship above Chinese nationalism, but this was on the assumption that Mao would lead that global citizenship.

After Mao’s death, new leader Deng Xiaoping commenced an opening up policy that allowed different identities to flourish in what became known as Communism with Chinese characteristics. In truth, the Chinese system was much like National Socialism in Germany during the Nazi era in that the state held power and ownership of key industries while still allowing private enterprise. Furthermore, strong nationalism based upon perceived strengths in Chinese genetics as well as a victimisation by outsiders, helped build loyalty to the only party allowed to rule. Today, aspects of the national socialist thinking can be seen in many areas of Chinese life, including the Chinese national Anthem, the March of the Volunteers (translation below)

Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves;
With our very flesh and blood Let us build our new Great Wall!
The Peoples of China are in the most critical time,
Everybody must roar his defiance.
Arise! Arise! Arise!
Millions of hearts with one mind,
Brave the enemy's gunfire, march on!
Brave the enemy's gunfire, march on!
March on! March on! March on, on!

Just as the Chinese identity is somewhat mixed up, so is the Australian identity. In mythology, Australians have celebrated rule breakers. This can partly be attributed to 80 years of Convict transportation in the 19th century that produced a culture that seemed to believe that rules were made to be broken. In the 20th, that culture made icons out of the likes of swimming legend Dawn Fraser and other larrikins (ruler breakers.) In conflict with the larrikin identity, Australian governments prescribed a British identity up until the 1970s.  The loss of the British identity has resulted in Australia experiencing some turmoil as many Australians with British ancestry no longer have a sense of who they are and when they came from. Although some have embraced an Australian identity, others have felt lost and expressed their alienation with anti-social behaviour.

Ned Kelly

Sidney Nolan's The Trial seems to reflect a popular celebration of rule breaking from a culture that is generally very compliant.



Religion in China never had the same political control over emperors or the people the way that religion had in Europe, America or the Middle-east. Perhaps this was because China’s religions were not monotheistic, therefore, they were more open to plurality of views and could be complimented by philosophical thought.

The Xia Dynasty had a form of animal worship. This was followed by ancestral worship in the Shang. Philosophical thought in the form of Confucianism emerged in the Zhou dynasty and this acted as a kind of religion. Also in the Zhou Dynasty there emerged a conception of heaven and a belief that heaven would reward a just ruler and punish an unjust ruler. Known as the Mandate of Heaven, it was evoked when one dynasty overthrew another.

Daoism/Taosim emerged in the warring states period. It proposed a set of practices on how an individual could lead a happy and peaceful life. A philosophy known as Legalism emerged in the Qin Dynasty. This proposed that instead of leading by example (as was promoted by Confucianism), the emperor should pass strict laws and rule with an iron fist. As well as rejecting the need to set the example, Legalism also rejected Confucian beliefs that the people should be given education. Instead, it proposed that people should be made to grow crops and fight for the emperor.
Legalism proved to be unpopular with everyone except the emperor. It soon fell apart. The subsequent Han dynasty embraced versions of Buddhism that were seen to share commonalities with Confucianism and Taoism.

The three teachings remained dominant in China until the Communist Revolution in 1949. The new Communist rulers viewed religion as hierarchical and/or a threat to the revolution. Consequently, temples were destroyed, monks executed and religious teaching banned. (Even though Confucianism was not a religion, it was also banned.) Like Qin Shihuang, Communist leader Chairman Mao seemed to like Legalism and ruled with aspects of it.

After China’s opening up under the leadership of Den Xiaoping, religion made another public emergence. This caused some concern amongst the Communist leadership that continued to see it as a threat to the revolution. In 1992, Falun Gong (based on Daoist beliefs) was publically introduced. Its rapid growth in popularity along with its politician edge soon saw it being banned. Buddhism continues to be treated with suspicion due to separatist movements in Tibet elevating the Dalia Lama as their leader. Islam is a point of friction as it is the religion of choice for Uighur separatists in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang. In addition, a great deal of relationship building in China revolves around the consumption of pork and alcohol, which causes friction with Muslims. Catholicism is treated with suspicion as it elevates the Vatican as the head of the religion and requires Vatican approval for the appointment of Bishops. (The Communist Party would like a say in the appointment of Bishops.) Confucianism seems to have returned to popularity amongst the ranks of the Communist Party. Evidence comes in the form of the Confucius Institutes (the organisations that proliferate Chinese culture around the world as a form of soft power diplomacy.)

Hang Monastry China

Built more than 1500 years ago into the side of a cliff, China’s Hanging Monastery stored Confucian, Buddhist and Daoism teachings in a model of religious co-operation.

In Australia, Christianity is the dominant religion but Australian Christianity doesn’t seem to have the same political aspirations or political currency as it does in many countries. In the words of cultural critic Robert Hughes,

"Any political candidate who declared God was on his side would be laughed off the podium as an idiot or a wowser (prude, intrusive bluenose)." 

The rejection of political Christianity can probably be traced to the penal era. For example, Governor Hunter was a morals crusader who frequently ordered Convicts be flogged for petty crimes. Although the Convicts were able to put up with the floggings, they were pushed to breaking point when they were ordered to attend Church on Sundays. They responded by burning the Church to the ground.  More anti-institutional sentiment could be seen in the scorn for Samuel Marsden – a reverend of the colonial era. In New Zealand, Marsden is celebrated as a great man who brought the gospel to the Maori. In Australia, he is remembered as the "flogging parson". The Convict men said of him:

"He prays for our souls on Sunday, and takes it out of bodies during the rest of the week."



Outside of theocratic nations, democracy is one of those words that is almost universally celebrated as a good thing, yet there is little consensus as to what it really means. According to the original Greek definition, democracy is the rule of people. In practice, it is generally conceived to mean that elections are held to decide who rules. Of course, every “democratic” nation has restrictions about who can participate in elections and how they can participate. Furthermore, they have abuses of power that prevent fair participation. In that regard, no country on earth is a true democracy.

China defines itself as a “People’s Republic”, which means that the Communist Party governs for the people. This governing includes the right to eliminate “reactionary” forces that threaten the rule of the Communist Party and its people-first policies. Within the party, elections are held to decide who leads the various positions. China is a democracy in the sense that all Chinese can potentially join the Communist Party where they will have an opportunity to subsequently vote. Around 80 million Chinese have done this. China is not a democracy in the sense that it does not allow new parties to be created that may compete with the Communist Party for rule of China through an electoral process. Furthermore, it does not allow free of communication so that members of the public can initiate a campaign that could influece the voting intentions or decision making of Communist Party Members.

Australia is defined as a Constitutional Monarchy. This means that the Head of State is a Monarch (Queen of England) but the Monarch’s power is constrained by democratic principles of the Australian Constitution. Australia has elections in which diverse parties and “reactionary” forces are free to stand but there are limits on who can vote, rules are skewed that prevent an even playing field and relative freedom of communication ensures that some votes are more influential than others.

Every Australian is in an electorate that has at least 21,343 people. Each citizen over 18 in the electorate must for an individual to represent them in the House of Representatives (permanent residents and citizens under 18 can not vote.) The elected representative are usually aligned with a major party. The party (or coalition) that gets the most members elected will govern. Australians can not vote for who will be the Head of State nor can they vote for who will be the Prime Minister (unless the candidate represents their electorate). The interests of major parties are served with electoral funding being restricted to parties that gain more than 5 % of the vote. They may be further served by pandering to the interests of private and public media companies that can skew voting habits. As a consequence, only two parties have a chance to govern and their rule will be bound by the need to repay the interest groups that helped them win the election.

In western countries, it is often presumed that China will eventually make the transition to a western style democracy. In truth, western democracies are characterised by a great deal of racial conflict, poverty and social ills that China doesn’t want and western countries claim they don’t want either. On the other hand, the one-party democratic system of Singapore arguably provides the favoured model for China in that it has combined economic development with social harmony. Furthermore, there is a widely held belief in China that a People’s Republic will encourage individuals to think of the national interest while the adversarial system of western democracies will encourage individuals to seek power through deal making with interest groups.  In other words, just as westerners are prone to see flaws in their own governments, so are the Chinese. It is therefore perfectly understandable that China would not seek to emulate the model.

Social activism

In China, the lack of an independent communications industry prevents the public from being able to initiate change in response to problems. This hinders the remedying of problems in three main ways. Firstly, if a senior Communist Party member doesn’t consider something to be a problem, then no solutions are devised. Secondly, if problem is identified, solutions may devised by an “expert” that considers one perspective rather than a range of perspectives that consider multiple stakeholders.  Finally, because the identification of a problem comes from the top, the community has less ownership over the problem and the solutions. As a consequence, the community is not an active participant in ensuring the devised solutions are embraced and values are changed.

The public visibility of environmental degradation is an obvious example that illustrates the failure of Communist Party to effectively implement solutions despite recognising that a problem exist. Some of the Party's solutions include colour coded recycling bins, policies to limit cars on the road and regulations banning polluting industries. The general public usually ignore the policies while guanxi (social connections) allows the larger industries to keep their polluting ways in defiance of the law. In short, the Communist Party often fails to change values or get public buy in even though its policies are great.

China Pollution

The Communist Party has implemented lots of solutions to improve the environment. Many fail due to the lack of public buy in. In the above example, a public waterway is used to dump fruit wrapped in plastic.

In Australia, an independent communications industry allows members of the public to identify a problem and amplify their voices through the media. Furthermore, a candidate from one of the many political parties is usually more than willing to add their face to a campaign in order to embarrass a rival for not taking the problem seriously. Clean Up Australia Day is one example of how extending freedom has allowed a problem to be identified and the community engaged in ways that has led to significant improvements in the environment.

Australian activism

Clean Up Australia Day has been an effective community led initiative that has fostered a greater appreciation for a clean environment.

On the negative side, campaigns in Australia are dominated by a strategy known as Media Advocacy, which can be defined as a kind of megaphone communication strategy to get something from government.  This results in Australia’s politicians responding to the voices that have the means to scream the loudest rather than the voices that highlight the most pressing problem or have solutions that will be effective. In sum, Media Advocacy places an emphasis on:

  • Linking the problem to inequalities in society rather than flaws in the individual
  • Changing public policy rather than personal behaviour
  • Focussing on policy makers rather than those who have a problem
  • Working with groups to increase participation and amplifying their voices

The voices that have the means to scream loudly tend to be organised interest groups whose solutions generally revolve around receiving government funding or changing government laws in a way that will increase their profitability. There is no attempt to educate the public to change any behaviour.

The failure to remedy disadvantage in Indigenous communities perhaps illustrates how social activism is often skewed for financial advantage rather than problem solving. In the past, strategies to reduce Aboriginal disadvantage included persuading governments to pass legislation that has restricted Aborigines from moving around the country, controlled their salaries, banned them from drinking alcohol, and criminalised sex across the colour line. More recently, campaigns to “raise awareness” of Aboriginal disadvantage have resulted in billions upon billions of dollars being allocated to “remedy” that disadvantage. In 2016 alone, $30 billion dollars was spent on 500,000 Indigenous people. This was almost 50% more than the entire Australian livestock industry generates for Australia. Despite the allocation of such funds for decades on end, statistics show no improvements. In contrast, since the central government of China regained control of Tibet in 1959, the life expectancy of Tibetans has almost doubled from around 32 years to 65 years. In short, Media Advocacy campaigns often do a great deal of evil as a "moral" issue is promoted for personal gain.



No government on earth has ever elevated the importance of poetry to the extent of the Chinese dynasties once did. In the first century AD, candidates had to pass an exam in scholastic arts, arithmetic, writing, ceremonies and ritual in order to gain employment in the dynasty's civil service. In the Tang Dynasty, an additional requirement was that candidates compose original poetry.

At various times, officials debated the necessity of poetry to civil service. Some considered it to be irrelevant and briefly removed the requirement while others proposed that it encouraged careful writing. In hindsight, perhaps poetry also helped candidates identify historical patterns, analyse Confucian philosophy, develop abstract thought and articulate persuasive sentences. For example, Chairman Mao was a noted poet and he showed his persuasive power of language with expressions like, “Women hold up half the sky.” The simple sentence arguably did far more to persuade Chinese about the importance of gender equality that would any detailed report on gender equality backed up by research.

Traditional Chinese poetry blends environmental imagery with beautiful verse to create an emotional aesthetic. Consequently, when translated into English, the poems lose their emotional aesthetic in a way that often results in them sounding a bit silly. For example, the ancient poem:

Guan guan jiu he zhi zhou
Yao tiao shu nu jun zi hao qiu

translates to

Guan! Guan! Cry the fish hawks, on sandbars in the river.
A mild-mannered good girl, fine match for the gentleman.

In Australia, poetry has never been seen as of great importance by government; however, it has been very influential in shaping the Australian identity. Like Chinese poetry, environmental imagery has been at the base of the poetry's emotional power. For example, in the 19th century, Banjo Patterson wrote the Man from Snowy River. It told the story of an underdog who, along with his horse, reflected the tough Australian landscape and thus showed that looks can be deceiving.

 Banjo Patterson's Man from Snowy River with footage from movie based on the poem

In the 20th century, Dorothea Mackellar wrote "My Country", in which she evoked the beauty, hardship, pain and disorder of the Australian landscape as a point of contrast with Europe but in a way that filled other Australians with pride.  A.D Hope's Australia was a particularly nuanced poem in that it used the Australian environment as a metaphor of Australia's cultural flaws; however, in that "Arabian desert of the human mind" Hope finds a spirit of a prophet to which he glady turns.

A. D. Hope

A Nation of trees, drab green and desolate grey
In the field uniform of modern wars,
Darkens her hills, those endless, outstretched paws
Of Sphinx demolished or stone lion worn away.

They call her a young country, but they lie:
She is the last of lands, the emptiest,
A woman beyond her change of life, a breast
Still tender but within the womb is dry.

Without songs, architecture, history:
The emotions and superstitions of younger lands,
Her rivers of water drown among inland sands,
The river of her immense stupidity

Floods her monotonous tribes from Cairns to Perth.
In them at last the ultimate men arrive
Whose boast is not: "we live" but "we survive",
A type who will inhabit the dying earth.

And her five cities, like five teeming sores,
Each drains her: a vast parasite robber-state
Where second hand Europeans pullulate
Timidly on the edge of alien shores.

Yet there are some like me turn gladly home
From the lush jungle of modern thought, to find
The Arabian desert of the human mind,
Hoping, if still from the deserts the prophets come,

Such savage and scarlet as no green hills dare
Springs in that waste, some spirit which escapes
The learned doubt, the chatter of cultured apes
Which is called civilization over there.

Attitude to Japan

In China, there is a great deal of hatred towards Japan based upon the country’s actions in World War 2 (in China, WW2 is known as the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression).  The hatred is so severe that many Chinese will no drive Japanese cars, buy any Japanese products and will be overtly rude to any Japanese that they meet.  Even though Australia fought Japan, Australians generally have a lot of respect for the Japanese. Furthermore, Japanese products are highly valued in Australia.
The different attitudes towards Japan stem from the aspects of World War 2 that are told in the cultures of the respective nations in addition to their styles of war remembrance. In China, public school children are taught about Japanese massacres, the rape of Chinese women by Japanese soldiers and the experiments of Japanese scientists on Chinese prisoners of war. Furthermore, the children are taught about the heroic Chinese soldiers that defeated the Japanese and liberated China.

China’s hatred of Japan is tied up with the way it remembers the war along with contemporary political disputes concerning islands, international alliances, and soft power.

Australian POWs likewise suffered at the hands of Japanese, particularly in Singapore’s Changi prison and during the construction of the Burmese railway. Furthermore, they were used for bayonet practice during the Kokoda battle. Such stories have a very low profile in Australia. Instead, it is more common to hear about Japanese prisoners of war escaping at Cowra for reasons of honour, their bravery along the Kokoda track or their ingenuity in their midget submarine attacks on Sydney Harbour. The later stories foster respect for Japanese.

Aside from paying more attention to aspects of the Japanese soldier that are easy to respect, Australia’s approach to war remembrance is one that makes it easy to let go of grudges. Specifically, instead of glorifying a great victory or vowing vengeance for a massacre, it simply remembers the fallen Australian soldier. Perhaps this makes it easier for Australians to also accept the Yasukuni Shrine. This is a shrine that remembers the 2,466,000 Japanese men and women who died in war. Visits to the shrine by Japanese politicians are therefore judged to be a sign that Japan lacks remorse over World War II and have led to hostile protests in Korea and China but not Australia. Perhaps it is because a central feature of Australian remembrance is the Ode, a paragraph taken from the poem 'Ode for the Fallen':

" They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them. "

Like Shinto belief, the Ode doesn't encourage judgements about right or wrong. The only thing that matters is that people died and those who live should remember them. In addition to refraining from judgement, the Australian approach is on remembering fallen soldiers, not the evil of the enemy. Because it's more focussed on the self, there is less attention given to the wrongs committed by others.


Australian soldiers suffered at the hands of the Japanese, but the evils of Japanese soldiers are not a significant part of Australian war remembrance.


Guanxi is a Chinese word that refers to the benefits that can be derived from social relationships. In hospitals, patients give doctors “red packets” of money to gain good service. Criminals use social relationships to avoid being brought to justice. Idiots get jobs because of who they know. Although the same thing might happen in Australia, if the social favouritism is outside the law, the law wins. In China, guanxi overrides laws.

Aside from being more important than the law, another unique fact about Chinese guanxi is that it exists in all levels of Chinese society. For example, Chinese restaurant owners must maintain good relationships with police, health inspectors, fire inspectors as well as suppliers. This can be achieved by supplying free food or offering jobs to relatives of influential people.The need to keep such people happy shows just how diversified power is in China. Even powerful Chinese figures are not always sure if the person they are dealing with has a good social network that could counter their power. Ironically, the lack of certainty about who has power can actually reduce conflict or increase the liklihood of giving face to others. No one with power wants conflict because the conflict weakens them, as does needing to call in favours to win the conflict.

In Australia, the enforcement of laws make social relationships less important. As a result, powerful people in Australia only try to maintain good relationships with government or the media. There is really no need to maintain good relations with the police or health inspectors like is the case in China.

Most Chinese dislike guanxi holding such importance. It is stressful to maintain the relationships, is not fair and harms China's development. Nevertheless, they must conform to its operation otherwise they lack power. They almost feel like an Adam-Smith-style invisable hand is contolling them, and there is nothing they can do to change the situation.

Government officials also recognise the problems caused by guanxi. They want China to develop and they appreciate that guanxi hinders development. Every now and then corrupt officials are executed to try to serve as a warning to others but changing the culture of 1.3 billion people is not so easy. Furthermore, people with good guanxi have a great deal of individual power that they do not want to give up.

Restaurant etiquette

In China, guanxi is often built via good restaurant etiquette. It is perfectly acceptable for diners to yell out something like, “Fuwyuan, wu yao cha” which translates as “waiter, I want tea.” In China, the customer has higher status than the waiter and the use of language reflects that status hierarchy. In Australia, such a phrasing would be considered extremely rude by other diners and the waiter. The polite Australian phrasing would be to use modal verbs like 'could', 'may' or 'can' instead of 'want' so as to indicate the customer's uncertainty about the waiter's desire or ability to provide tea. By using uncertain phrasing, the customer engages with the waiter under a myth of egalitarianism.

Generally, in China, the person paying the bill will order everyone’s meals and these will be placed in the centre of the table to share. In contrast, in an Australian Asian restaurant, each diner will order something and the meals shared. The bill will usually be split. Again, egalitarianism governs the Australian custom.

Drinking is a big part of the Chinese experience. Baijui (white spirit) is a favoured drink and is often used to demonstrate respect. Chinese will often say ‘gambai’, which translates as ‘bottoms up.’ Failure to gambai is a sign of disrespect. There will also be a tap of the glasses with people of inferior status showing deference to someone of superior status by tapping the lip of the glass below the corresponding lip of someone of higher status. When there is a significant number of high status people that don’t want to offend others, there can be a number of quick drops of the hand to ensure deference is shown. Unless the very expensive Maotai is being consumed, the drinking will continue until people are very drunk. Being a strong drinker that is able to hold alcohol is a status symbol.

In Australia, it is usually only university students or military personnel who bottom up their booze. Older Australians drink more slowly, mix in conversation with the drinking, and generally frown upon people who get very intoxicated. Australians will toast, but the toast only requires a little alcohol be drunk. (It doesn't require the whole glass be downed.) Furthermore, when glasses are tapped, no status is communicated by where the lips of the glasses are tapped.


Chinese are very proud of their record of inventiveness. Among hundreds of useful agricultural and industrial innovations are the four great Chinese inventions of gun powder, printing, the compass and paper making. Unfortunately, Chinese inventiveness seemed to have largely disappeared by the 13th century.

It is open to debate why China has been in a state of inventive stagnation for almost 800 years. Perhaps the Yuan Dynasty was not conducive to invention because Mongol invaders were chiefly concerned with war. After the Yuan, the Ming briefly had a world outlook but were soon burning their boats and building large walls to keep the foreigners out. Inward looking cultures tend to lose curiosity and lack the leadership that is receptive to ideas. Like the Yaun, the Qing were minority invaders so perhaps not open to domestic innovations. Finally, the Communist revolution in the 20th century was not particularly enlightened as it went burning books, vilifying critics and trying to make everyone think the same. Today, a lack of enforcement of intellectual property laws makes it more economic to simply steal foreign inventions than to devote resources to develop their own.

Great Wall Xibehe

The Great Wall commencing in Xibehe - The Great Wall was a great feat of engineering, but building it along mountain tops where no invader would ever tread was a waste of resources as was the whole strategy of building a wall to keep out invaders. It marked an insular mindset that perhaps explained the lack of inventiveness in recent centuries.

Over the large 230 years, Australia has built up an impressive array of inventions. Some of the inventions have been simple things like the notepad. Some of the more high tech inventions include hi-speed wifi, which is used in almost all mobile devices that connect to the internet, the Jindalee radar system, which made America’s invisible stealth bomber visible to radar, and the scram jet engine that may one day make it possible to fly from Sydney to London in 30 minutes.

Jindalee Radar System

In 1988, the US military announced to the world that it had developed the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter, which it believed could not be detected by radar. The stealth fighter had cost more than $11 billion to develop and had been in operation for seven years. Seeing a challenge, Australian scientists at the CSIRO speculated that if the plane could not be detected, perhaps the turbulence it made passing through air could be. $1.5 million later, the Jindalee Radar system had transformed the stealth bomber into nothing more than an unusual looking aircraft.

Nobel Prize winners

Chinese have a stereotype that they are smarter than other people around the world, which perhaps fuels a desire to win Nobel Prizes to affirm the stereotype. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until 2012 that China had a laureate that they could accept.
The Dalai Lama won the Nobel peace prize in 1989. Even though Chinese consider Tibet to be part of China, they didn’t consider him to be a Chinese laureate. Perhaps this was because he was Tibetan so couldn’t affirm the stereotype of Chinese intelligence or perhaps it because many Chinese didn’t like what he had to say. Dissident Liu Xiaobo won China’s second peace prize in 2010. Unfortunately, he was in a Chinese jail at the time so the award was widely received as an insult. Arguably, the awarding of the peace prize to Liu Xiaobo was un-strategic by the committee as no nation cared as much about the prize as did China. Instead of rejoicing, official media suggested that seeking a Nobel Prize was not a worthy goal. Perhaps as a peace-building exercise, in 2012, China got a laureate that they could officially accept when Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize for literature, (the most subjective of categories.) Some people in China, such as artist Ai Wei Wei, were still disappointed as they considered Mo Yan be a political choice as he had strong connections to the Communist Party.

In Australia, the Nobel Prize is close to a non-event. Perhaps this is because Chinese-style talk of intellectual superiority would be seen by many Australians as racist. Without a desire to seem intellectually superior to other nations, there is no need for a prize to affirm beliefs in superiority. (Athletic superiority is freely talked about in Australia and is not seen as racist. As a result, Olympic gold medals and World Cup wins are desired to affirm the beliefs.)

Despite the lack of acclaim, Australia has produced 10 Nobel laureates. Most have been in the fields of science and two have come from literature. Australia has never produced a peace prize laureate and probably never will. Peace prize winners tend to come from cultures that have a lot of conflict and Australia just doesn't have enough conflict.


It may be stereotypical to say but Chinese like stereotypes. They constitute a large part of their social identity and are frequently used in public persuasion campaigns. For example, the website www.index-china.com describes Chinese people as:

"peaceful, hardworking and easily contented. They respect elders, love children and are patient with their fellows. Chinese in general are reserve and humble. They believe in harmony and never look for confrontation."

Although not all individual Chinese could be defined with these personality characteristics, almost all Chinese would be happy to be defined with these personality characteristics. Furthermore, if the stereotype were evoked in an international situation, almost all Chinese would temporarily conform to it to make it a reality. In these two regards, the stereotypes are an accurate reflection upon reality.

In Australia, there is more of a tendency to create a negative stereotype of the national character that will in turn cause Australians to recoil from. For example, the fictional movie Wolf Creek tells the story of a psychopath that tortures and murders foreign tourists. It also states that it is based on actual events, which are a conflation of some Australian serial killers and a perceived darkness in the Australian character. According to director Greg McClean:

"The Australian culture is bright sunny beaches, Crocodile Dundee and all that kind of shit, and the shadow side of that is xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, racism, all that kind of stuff that we squash down but is alive and well".

In another example, Dr Tanja Dreher, UTS Shopfront Research Manager actively gone searching for examples of the Australia's fair go stereotype being accurate in order to deconstruct it. Subsequently, she released press-releases of the vein:

"There is in fact evidence of a serious gulf between the myth of 'a fair go' Australia and the reality. As a society we need to start taking responsibility for the intolerant and frequently ignorant nation we have become."


Small talk

A study of difficulties the Chinese born may find in Australian workplaces identified small talk as a particularly challenging obstacle. Specifically, the study found:

“that engaging in workplace small talk presents the most challenge to Chinese professionals, and this is because the nature and dynamics of small talk is new to their social experience. Often unexpected and ambiguous, encounters requiring small talk show the Chinese involved lack the sociolinguistic competence to accurately interpret the situation they are being placed in, as well as the linguistic repertoire needed to appropriately express an efficient and acceptable response. This situation is exacerbated by gaps in their local knowledge in a range of dimensions. Underlying these more explicit gaps and differences are evident mismatches in the deeply held beliefs and values of the two groups about the nature of personal identify and interpersonal relationships, and hence differences in their belief about how relationships beyond the intimate circle of family and close friends should be best managed. It is these mismatches which account at base for the Chinese lack of sociopragmatic competence to engage in small talk, and are the fundamental cause of dilemmas they experience when dealing with challenging situations.”

from Cui, X. (2012). Problematic Chinese-Australian social interactions at work. PhD thesis, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.

Some of the difficulties can be traced to the Australian version of English. The use of diminutive words like arvo, pollie, journo and chrissy, idioms like, ‘have a crack’ and similes like ‘built like a brick shithouse’ even confuse foreigners for whom English is a first language, let alone Chinese for whom English may be a second, third language or fourth language. Furthermore, Australian phrasings like, "how did you get on at the beach?" and "how did you go at the beach?" (instead of "did you have a good time at the beach?") don't make much literal sense.

As well as language, some of the difficulties may be traced to differences in small talk topics. In China, small talk questions often include such things as “are you married?” and “how old are you?”, which would often be considered rude in Australia. Australian small talk often revolves around jobs, weekend activities or sport. If the sport being discussed wasn't soccer, basketball or ping pong, the Chinese probably couldn't participate.

Finally, the difficulties may be traced to the fact that, on average, Chinese are relatively poor communicators due to the nature of the Chinese education system. Because the Chinese education system is teacher centred, it doesn’t encourage the kind of class discussions or discussions between students that are common in Australian classrooms. Ironically, when Australian classrooms fail due to poor teacher pedagogy, the classes become noisy as a result of students talking because they are not engaged. Although students may not learn what they need to know about a battle in Hastings in 1066, at least their communication skills are getting a workout.

The difference in pedagogy is in turn reflected in social life. When Chinese socialise, it is more common to engage in an activity than have a conversation. For example, Chinese may go to a restaurant and get blind drunk, go to Ktv and sing, sit on the street and play cards, or go to a bar and play dice games. When Australians socialise, there is lots of talking. They will talk in a pub, talk at a dinner party, talk at a café and even talk at the cricket.


Art – painting

Traditional Chinese painting uses ink on paper, which leaves no room for error. A nearly complete painting may be ruined in a matter of seconds by an excess application of ink that runs and blurs. When such a mistake occurs, there is no way of painting over the top to remedy the error.

Because the use of Chinese ink requires great mastery of brush use, it is quite easy to understand why Chinese art changed little over the centuries. Once the apprentice had learned from the master, the brush was passed on and the tradition continued. Wu Chen’s paintings completed in the 13th century would not look out of place in an exhibition of contemporary ink artists.

Although many modern Chinese painters still use ink, others use oils. While the medium has changed, they show the influence of their tradition by maintaining very advanced skills in the use of brush strokes and colour mixing.

Yue Minjun is arguably China’s most famous contemporary painter. Based in Beijing, Yue paints himself with a happy face in a variety of incongruent situations, such as Tiananmen Square 1989. For his western customers, Yue is a dissident who expresses his dissent via sarcastic conformity. By "fooling" China's rulers, Yue can protest without being taken away and shot.


Yue Minjun - Execution - While westerners see him as a dissident, most Chinese see Yue as a clever man who has made a lot of money by giving westerners what they want.

Yao Lu takes photos of rubbish tips and building sites and uses photoshop to make them resemble a traditional Chinese painting.


John Spooner - Kevin Rudd's intervention in Aboriginal communities

Australia’s newspaper cartoonists create art that has some similar elements to the contemporary Chinese artists. They take a political issue and either demonstrate the inconsistencies in a visual manner or try to represent the issue in visual manner. The intention is to mock the issue, provoke thought on the issue, or help readers understand the issue.

In regards to painting, contemporary Australian art is quite different to contemporary Chinese art in that most of the successful Australian artists since World War 2 never went to art school. These artists include Albert Tucker, Pro Hart, Arthur Boyd, Clifford Possum, Russel Drysdale, Clifford Possum, Albert Namatjira, Sidney Nolan, and Anatjari Tjakamarra among many others. Landscape and identity seems to be one of the most favoured topics.



Chinese classrooms are teacher focussed while Australian classrooms are more student focussed. In more simple terms, a Chinese teacher is more likely to deliver the answer whereas an Australian teacher is more likely to give students some basic knowledge and subsequently expect them to do something with it. Furthermore, whereas Chinese classes don't have a great deal of interaction between students, Australian classes do.

Although the teaching styles are expressed in all classes, it is the physical education classes where the differences are most salient. In China, it is common to have a teacher standing in front of students demonstrating a skill. The students then copy it. In Australia; however, teachers usually aren't involved in the activity itself. Like a coach of a football team, they design exercises that develop skills and subsequently tell students to do them. Students learn by doing, by interacting with other students, and by their own initiative. The teacher is more of a facilitator than an instructor.

Arguably, the differences in teaching styles originate from language differences. The pictorial writing systems of China can only be taught via teacher instruction followed by student repetition. On the other hand, Australian students only need to learn the 26 characters of the alphabet. Once they are mastered, teachers need to instruct students in grammar.

There are strengths and weaknesses of each approach. The Chinese approach encourages people to learn from others. This approach can cause problems when others say silly things, such as the myth that the Great Wall of China can be seen from the moon. In such circumstances, silly ideas can be written in textbooks, taught by teachers and accepted without question by students. The students then make a fool of themselves by telling foreigners the Great Wall of China can be seen from the moon. The Australian approach encourages individuals to express their ideas even if they are in contradiction to established thought. The main problem is that it often means Australians kids are constantly expected to keep reinventing the wheel rather than learning how cogs work so that they can invent machines.



Although both Chinese and Australians define their respective countries as multicultural, the word means something different in each. In China, multiculturalism refers to the 56 different groups that have distinct cultures anchored in a region. These groups may speak different languages, wear different clothes, and be of different racial groups. The cultural integrity of the ethnic groups is supported by the central government; however, the ethnic groups are required to learn Mandarin Chinese as a common language.

In Australia, multiculturalism used to mean a form of cultural apathied. Now it basically means lots of people with different coloured faces living together.


In China, it is important to show consideration for others. Typical shows of consideration include sending a getwell text message when a friend is sick, giving some health advice, or helping an elderly person down the stairs.  

While the Chinese show consideration to their friends and acquaintances, public consideration is a bit lacking. For example, Chinese spit in swimming pools, on the street, and sometimes even inside buildings. Chinese people also casually throw rubbish on the street, and men frequently urinate on the street.

Australians are less likely to show consideration on an individual level. The general idea is that a person is able to take care of themselves and doesn't need well wishes or help. Receiving help, when it hasn't be asked for, is usually seen as annoying. Australians are; however, more likely than Chinese to show public consideration. Few Australians throw rubbish on the street and most would never spit in a swimming pool. Occasionally drunk men urinate in public; however, etiquette stipulates that they should at least seek out a tree to prevent a urine smell from lingering.

Family values

Because Australia is populated by migrants and decendants of migrants, Australians don't have extended families as large as in China. This changes the approach to family relationships.

Aside from having smaller extended families, the nuclear family in Australia operates in a different fashion to China. In Australia, each generation tends to be independent. Parents will support children until they are around 18, and then they concentrate on saving for their own retirement. Parents will then live independently until they are unable to care for themselves. When that occurs, their children will be put them in a old-age home, or convince their parents to live with them.

In China, parents will almost bankrupt themselves giving their children every possibility in life. Huge loans may be taken out to fund the child getting an international education, or buying a home for the boys in the family. In return, the parents will move into their children's home once they get married. The living situation is not ideal for everyone. Chinese men, like men all around the world, are not always fans of their mother-in-laws living with them.

Because parents share a very significant part of their child's adult lives, they naturally want to take part in the selection of their child's spouse. In China this is particularly important as the one-child policy may result in one man supporting 7 people (two sets of parents, wife, child and himself) and naturally parents would like a son-in-law or daughter-in-law with a good income and a prestigious family that doesn't require a lot of supporting themselves.


Until 2001, Chinese psychiatrists officially categorised homosexuality as a mental illness and used drugs to treat it. Even though their sexual desires are no longer defined as signs of a mental illness, homosexuals are not widely accepted. Under the one-child policy, parents fear that a homosexual child means the end of their evolutionary line. Consequently, homosexuals probably get into sham marriages and keep their homosexuality a secret.

Homosexuals in Australia have had a prominent role since the various Australian states decriminalised the act between the 1972 and 1997. For example, Australia has had a gay prime minister, a gay high court judge, numerous gay MPs, and most of Australia's famous male actors have played the role of a gay man. Australia also has a gay and lesbian street party that culiminates in a homosexual orgy known as the Sleeze Ball. The street party and orgy receive congratulations and financial support from governments.

Even though homosexuality is more widely accepted in Australia than in China, Australians are more motivated to reject behaviour seen as gay than are Chinese. For example, straight Chinese women walk down the street holding hands with each other and Chinese men walk down the street with arms on each others shoulders. In Australia, straight women don't hold hands with friends nor do straight men puts arms around each other as they don't want to appear gay.


Freedom can be difficult to define. Every government on earth imposes restrictions on individuals to protect other individuals. For example, Singapore restricts the freedom of the individual to chew gum in order to protect the freedom of people who want to walk down the street without stepping on used gum.

The Australian government is very bureaucratic and imposes many restrictions on its people that Asian governments do not. For example, Australians can not smoke inside, drink alcohol in many public areas, ride a bicycle without a helmet, or defame public figures. Furthermore, Australians may lose up to 47 per cent of their income in taxes, which is far more than the 10-20 per cent in China. The Australian government uses this income tax revenue to alter the natural balance of social society. Although the altering of the balance may help Australia, governments have an uncanny habit of getting things wrong, or using revenue for their own agendas. In the process, the individual Australian is denied freedom.

While Chinese have more freedom from government than Australians, they lack freedom in their social sphere. Because they have very strong cultures, a great deal of social pressure is exerted upon the individual in almost every facet of his or her lives. This pressure can be likened to a form of political correctness that constrains the individual when they choose a marriage partner, career, clothes to wear, values to hold, or morals to support. If the individual's desires and values are in conformity with the cultural norms, then the individual feels a sense of belonging. If they are incongruent; however, then they can suffer the same kind of stress that is suffered by Australians when they feel that politically correct values or concepts are stifling their free expression.

If individuals break the cultural taboo by exerting their individual values, they are not going to be taken away and shot anymore than Australians would be taken away and shot for getting a swastika tattooed on their foreheads. However, they will find that their friendships, job opportunities and family prestige will all suffer.

Because Australia lacks a strong culture, individuals can free themselves of a great deal of conformity pressures. Admittedly, Australia has subcultures that exert conformity pressures on the individual, but it is relatively easy for the individual to simply leave the subculture and join another one. Consequently, the subculture can never be too strict. The same can't be said of China. For Chinese who feel constrained by social pressure, the only real option available to them is to migrate to a foreign country.

Insults as terms of endearment

In personal relationship, the Chinese are prone to use insults as terms of endearment. For example, a girlfriend may constantly refer to her boyfriend as fat or stupid. Likewise, a boyfriend, or good friend, may refer to a woman as a fatty or someone with bad taste in clothes.

Australians also are prone to use insults as terms as endearment, but generally refrain from referring to a woman as a fatty or a man as stupid. Instead, the insults tend to be more generic such as bastard or dickhead.


For the Chinese, face is very important, not only for themselves, but also for their dealings with others. Often they refrain from expressing their true feelings because they do not want to strip someone of their dignity. This makes China a very friendly place to visit. Chinese tend to be very complimentary towards the visitors, and want the visitor to leave with a good impression of their country. Even if the visitor is rude and obnoxious, the Chinese will usually refrain from expressing their true feelings and pretend to be respectful.

For historical reasons, face is not important for Australians. For the first 80 years of its urban existence, Australia was a penal colony. This naturally elicited ridicule from foreigners, migrants and Australian civic leaders. That ridicule has never really gone away. Consequently, Australia remains a place where people freely criticise others and are criticised themselves. This makes Australians quite thick skinned, and not very sensitive to causing offence in others. For example, when former Prime Minister Paul Keating referred to the Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamed, as a "recalcitrant", he didn't really have any idea that his remark would cause problems. However, rather than ignore the comment, Mahathir Mohamed viewed Keating's remark as indicative of the country he came from and subsequently said:

"We can't do anything. If people have no manners, I mean children we can smack them I think that a whole nation, or there generally is one nation who have no manners. It's very difficult, who resort to personal vilification and all that."

Compared to Chinese, Australians don't really care what foreigners think of their country because they are so accustomed to hearing negative things about it anyway. So much so, Australians will even join with the foreigners in criticising it. Even when they want to give a compliment, Australians might mask it as an insult.






"Australia's culture has always been characterised by someone trying to make rules to live by, and someone else trying to break them."