There are times when it feels like the U.S. and China are the farthest apart you could possibly get in terms of culture, language, and many other aspects of life. However, the two countries actually have quite a bit in common. In fact, when you stop to think about it, you could argue that China and the USA are basically twins.
1. Physical size and geography
China and the U.S. take up roughly the same area of the planet, and the two countries cover roughly the same latitudes, just in opposite hemispheres. They’ve both got the varied geography you would expect from such large land masses. They both have impressive mountains (Rockies, Himalayas), expansive grasslands (the Dakotas, Inner Mongolia), humid subtropical areas (Florida, Guangxi), places known for their icy cold winters (Minnesota, Harbin), places that are famous for their beaches (California, Hainan), and places where no one bats an eye if you wear your cowboy hat all day, every day (Texas, Tibet).
And you know what? Their capitals (D.C., Beijing) are both in the northeast part of the country. Coincidence? Maybe not. Conspiracy theorists, take note.
2. Global Superpowers
There’s no denying that both China and the U.S. have big roles on the international stage. I could give a few examples, but that might cause one side or the other to shut down my blog, so I’ll just say that the governments and policies of both countries regularly make news headlines across the globe.
3. Ugly Tourists
Americans have a long history of annoying the snot out of Europeans as they galavant across the globe, though it seems like we’ve toned down our obnoxious ways over the past few decades. Chinese tourists, on the other hand, are just now embracing the joy of irritating and offending people in other lands. The government is doing what it can to educate its would-be travelers, including their version of a no-fly list for past bad behavior. But, the reputation is already out there.
4. Cars, Cars, and More Cars
Chinese and Americans LOVE their cars. Although the love affair started much earlier for those in the U.S., it’s been a fast and fervent race to car ownership in the Middle Kingdom. The hot new trend in China is “self drive travel,” a concept Americans have long embraced but that is catching on quickly in China as people in the PRC realize they can break free from organized tour groups and go wherever they please if they’ve got their own wheels. I guess it’s the natural outcome of combining private automobile ownership and a big country.
5. Foreign Food Adjusted for Taste
In the U.S., this means deep-fried eggrolls and tubs of bright red sweet & sour sauce count as “Chinese food.” In China, this means a mayonnaise and fruit cocktail on pizza, and a fried egg on top of a partially disintegrated piece of cow count as authentic “Western food.”
6. The Language Everyone is Trying to Learn
English has been the lingua franca of the world for a while now, and English teachers are in demand all over the globe. In particular, I often hear how people want to learn American English since that is the language of most of the movies and TV shows they watch. But now Mandarin has also come into vogue. Kids all over the world are trying to learn Mandarin, and it’s the “standard” Mandarin spoken in the PRC that they’re after. 加油!
7. The Business Partner Everyone is Trying to Woo
The U.S. is the largest consumer on the planet, and China has the largest population on the planet. Everyone is trying to get a piece of those two pies.
8. The Country Everyone Loves to Hate
Perhaps for some – or all – of the reasons above, the rest of the world loves to point out the flaws of both the USA and China. We get made fun of quite a bit, sometimes fairly, sometimes not.
There’s one more on this list for me: I have called both countries home for big chunks of my life, and I love them both!