Research article
Issue: № 12 (114), 2021


Научная статья

Оуян Мэйхэ1, Сюн Инцзе2, *

1, 2 Шанхайский университет политических наук и права, Шанхай, Китай

* Корреспондирующий автор (13482813557[at]163.com)


В качестве базового общего курса, предлагаемого китайскими университетами для иностранных студентов, «Введение в Китай» является обязательным курсом, помогающим иностранным студентам лучше адаптироваться к учебе и жизни в Китае. Вне зависимости от того, является ли «Введение в Китай» курсом или серией курсов, при его неэффективном усвоении иностранные студенты рискуют не понять Китай в надлежащей мере. «Введение в Китай» может помочь иностранным студентам понять данную страну, а также традиционную и современную стороны китайской культуры. Преподавание этого курса как на китайском, так и на английском языках может улучшить коммуникативные эффекты и позволить иностранным студентам лучше понять Китай и его культуру.

Ключевые слова: Введение в Китай, Курс, Традиционная китайская культура, Современная китайская культура, Китайско-английское двуязычие.


Research article

Ouyang Meihe1, Xiong Yingjie2, *

1, 2 Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, Shanghai, P.R. China

* Corresponding author (13482813557[at]163.com)


As a basic general course offered by Chinese universities for international students, "An Introduction to China" is a compulsory course to help international students better adapt to their study and life in China. Whether "An Introduction to China" is a course or a series of courses, if it is not solved effectively, it will not be possible for international students to understand China well. "An Introduction to China"could help international students understand China,traditional Chinese culture and contemporary Chinese culture. Teaching the "An Introduction to China" in both Chinese and English can achieve better communication effects and enable international students to better understand China and Chinese culture.

Keywords: An Introduction to China; Course; Traditional Chinese Culture; Contemporary Chinese Culture; Chinese-English bilingualism.


It is generally believed that the "An Introduction to China" is a common compulsory course for international students studying in Chinese universities. It is an important platform to help international students understand China, become familiar with China, especially with Chinese culture. "The characteristics of being basic, common and general require a comprehensive, systematic and objective introduction of the basic content and basic knowledge of China and Chinese culture" [1, P. 1]. The textbooks currently widely used in China mainly include China: Country Profile published by Peking University Press [8] and Understanding China published by Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press [1]. Wang’s China: Country Profile includes fourteen chapters, covering China’s territory, China’s history, China’s population, China’s nation, China’s political system, China’s economy, China’s science and technology, China’s education, and China’s traditional thinking, Chinese literature, Chinese art, Chinese customs, Chinese tourism, and China’s international exchanges to allow international students to understand China and Chinese culture.

Cheng's Understanding China also includes 14 chapters, covering geography, history, philosophy, religion, literature and art, language, calligraphy and painting, economy, science and technology, education, medical and health, sports and martial arts, and traditional festivals, food and cultural heritage. They introduce China to international students from different perspectives. Just making a simple comparison, it is not difficult for us to find that although they are all fourteen chapters, the differences in the content are not small: some chapters have similarities, and some chapters are completely different. It can be seen that, as a course, An Introduction to China has not reached a consensus on the content of the course that should be covered in China. International students who are educated under this course will have different knowledge and understanding of China. Their gains after taking this course will also be quite different. Therefore, it is necessary and urgent to systematically construct the content of An Introduction to China as a course offered by Chinese universities for international students. It is because "to learn the course of An Introduction to China well, for international students, it is the need to establish their basic knowledge of China, the need to have a comprehensive understanding of China, and the need for them to finish other courses or majors in Chinese" [8, P. 1].

Learn about China from different perspectives

An international student, no matter in which country he goes to study, should know something about that country, so that he can better understand the people of that country, can better integrate into the local life, and make his study life abroad better and more colorful; in the future, he will be able to do more to promote friendly exchanges between the two countries and benefit the mutual understanding of the two peoples. When it comes to China, people often say that it has a long history and a vast land with abundant resources. Understanding a country like China can be done from three aspects: a general understanding, an understanding of traditional Chinese culture, and an understanding of contemporary Chinese culture.

The first is to have a rough and more comprehensive understanding of China. To achieve this goal, one can understand and observe China from different perspectives such as China's geography, history, political system, economic system, social system, education system, science and technology, culture, health, sports, diplomacy, military, and rule of law.

The second is to have an understanding of traditional Chinese culture. Traditional Chinese culture refers to "the overall life style and value system of the Chinese nation that originated and developed in the traditional society" [3, P. 3]. "A nation created by the Chinese nation living in Chinese Culture, after thousands of years of evolution, has been integrated into a complete system, reflecting the national characteristics and national style, condensing the national spirit and national temperament, and is continuously inherited and developed by the Chinese nation for generations" [1, P. 4]. There was a saying in ancient China: "To understand today should be based on the past; no past, no today". China's long cultural tradition has a profound influence on the formation of contemporary China and the formation of the values of the Chinese nation, and is the source of cultural characteristics that distinguish the Chinese nation from other nations in the world. Traditional Chinese culture includes traditional Chinese geographic culture, political system culture, economic system culture, education culture, religious culture, food culture, wine culture, tea culture, architectural culture, painting culture, calligraphy culture, dance culture, opera culture, and music Culture, martial arts culture, name culture, festival culture, and traditional Chinese medicine culture. These different traditional cultures come from the unique historical source of Chinese culture. Traditional Chinese literature reflects the unique cultural spirit of the Chinese nation.

The third is to have an understanding of contemporary Chinese culture. Today's China is full of vitality, the economic development is stable, and people's lives are safe and sound, presenting a scene of prosperity and harmony. Behind this peaceful and prosperous situation is contemporary Chinese culture. International students can observe contemporary China from different perspectives such as political culture, economic culture, social culture, ecological culture, industrial culture, educational culture, technological culture, diplomatic culture, legal culture, financial culture, language culture, transportation culture, tourism culture, etc. Therefore, they can learn about China today, and then better understand China and understand China's development.

China is a mystery in the eyes of some Western scholars; the existence of contemporary Chinese people's development philosophy, life philosophy, and political system has its own historical and cultural logic, which is a historical choice and cultural inevitability.

Understanding China from a cultural perspective

China is one of the four ancient civilized countries in the world. The Chinese civilization is one of the four civilizations in the world. It has lasted for more than 5,000 years and continued to last. It is unique among the four civilizations. Culture is the soul of a country and a nation, and it is also the life of a country and a nation. The excellent traditional Chinese culture bred in the development of more than 5,000 years of civilization has accumulated the deepest spiritual pursuits of the Chinese nation, represents the unique spiritual identity of the Chinese nation, and is the collective unconsciousness of the Chinese nation. In the course of its development, Chinese culture has been eclectic and embodied great tolerance. "Human culture can be divided into three types: nomadism, farming, and commerce. Nomadic and commercial types start from internal shortages and need to be solved from outside. Their cultural characteristics are often aggressive. The farming type can be self-sufficient and have nothing to ask for outside. Its cultural characteristics are often Peaceful" [6, P. 2]. The main body of Chinese culture is farming culture, and in the long historical development process, it has demonstrated the mutual learning and integration of different ethnic cultures.

There are many definitions of culture, and the scope of culture is so wide that it is difficult to have an accurate definition. "Generally, civilization and culture refer to the life of human groups. Civilization is external and belongs to the material aspect. Culture is internal and belongs to the spiritual aspect. Therefore, civilization can be spread and accepted outside, and culture must be produced by the accumulation of spirit within the group... Culture can produce civilization, but civilization does not necessarily produce culture" [6, P. 1]. "Multiple complementarity" is a manifestation of the fusion power of Chinese culture and one of the reasons for the continuous development of Chinese culture. Diversified cultural forms influence each other, absorb each other, and merge with each other in mutual contact, and jointly form 'The culture of being harmonious between the different and the structure of a pluralistic integration of the Chinese nation' [2, P. 38]. The culture formed by the Chinese nation through a long historical process is Chinese culture. What is included in Chinese culture? The pioneering work of Chinese cultural history, Mr. Liu Yizheng’s Chinese Cultural History created in the 1920s, can give us a glimpse. The book is rich in content, covering from political systems, education and arts, social customs to economic life, products, buildings, picture carving, etc., are all elaborated in detail. In the modern cultural history part of the book, the author talked about the import of Western academics, legal and economic changes, and modern school education with the rigor of historians, further reflecting the inclusiveness and developing quality of Chinese culture, which are the source of life and fundamental motivation of the long history and full of vitality of the Chinese culture.

A book that has a great influence on the inheritance and dissemination of Chinese culture is Introduction to the History of Chinese Culture by Qian Mu, a master of Chinese traditional studies. From the geographical background of Chinese culture, the book talks about the formation of the Chinese nation, national harmony, religious development, and the spiritual and character characteristics of the Chinese nation. It essentially analyzes the responses of Chinese and Westerners to the external environment. The evolution of traditional Chinese culture starts from the differences between Chinese culture and European culture and makes a concise summary. It is very convincing: Chinese culture is "humanistic", and it is not just for a country. The development of the country does not want to expand its power step by step, but has the big idea of "the world is unified and the world is peaceful." Mr. Gu Hongming, a very famous scholar in Modern China, who was keen to promote the culture and spirit of the East to Westerners and has had a significant impact, pointed out that the Chinese character and the characteristics of Chinese civilization are "deep, broad, simple, and delicate" in his book The Spirit of the Chinese People. Professor and Linguist Lin Yutang believes that the spirit of Chinese culture is the spirit of humanism. Chinese humanists believe that the meaning of life is not in the afterlife, but in the enjoyment of a simple life, especially the joy and harmony of family life; such simple happiness is the goal of pursuing happiness in life. This is the best footnote for Lin Yutang's dedicated translation of Six Chapters of a Floating Life, and it is also the ordinary pursuit of ordinary Chinese.

Teach An Introduction to China in both Chinese and English

Telling the Chinese story well, spreading the Chinese voice, showing the true, three-dimensional and comprehensive China, letting international people understand traditional Chinese culture is an effective way. This will not only increase the appeal of Chinese culture, but also allow the world to better understand today’s China. Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, and English is the most widely used language in the world. Using Chinese and English to teach An Introduction to China will not only reduce the difficulty for international people to understand Chinese culture through language, but is also beneficial for international people to understand Chinese itself through English, achieving the effect of mutual learning and mutual appreciating in language. Lin Yutang's works created in English once made a sensation in European and American literary circles. He has made outstanding achievements in introducing Chinese culture to the West in English. His book The Importance of Living has a far-reaching impact. Mr. Gu Hongming, who was proficient in western studies, believed that traditional Chinese Confucianism is the way of benevolence and righteousness, which can save the coldness and destruction in the jungle world competition. He spared no effort to promote traditional Chinese culture to the world and translated the Great Learning, The Doctrine of the Mean, The Analects into English and have aroused great echoes in the West. If the English masterpieces of Gu Hongming and Lin Yutang were paralleled in Chinese and English, it may also have had unexpected effects on Chinese international education. The Chinese linguist Mr. Luo Changpei once said that "the cultural factors reflected in language are obviously helpful for the perspective of culture itself" [5, P. 107].

Using English to teach An Introduction to China, traditional Chinese culture and contemporary Chinese culture will inevitably involve the issue of cultural translation. Cultural translation is not an easy task, because only one aspect of culture and translation is not a simple task. However, we shouldn't be hesitating due to this, because translation is a means of cultural communication that relies on language conversion, and cultural translation is the inherent task and function of translation. "The task of cultural translation is not to translate culture, but to translate the content or the meaning of cultural information" [4, P. 95]. The biggest obstacle to cultural understanding is cultural parallax. Therefore, cultural understanding of translation must pay attention to its overall Sexuality and multi-dimensionality. In order to achieve a better cultural dissemination effect, different translators will adopt various translation strategies that they think are effective when translating Chinese traditional cultural classics. Today's people have made a lot of research on the translating strategies of Matteo Ricci, Legge, Hawkes, Gu Hongming, Lin Yutang, Yang Xianyi, etc. In 2019, Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press published Professor Shi Zhikang's Confucius’s Analects: Translation & Critical Comments. Prof. Yang Renjing believes that the book has three major characteristics [7]: First, it faces overseas readers and is convenient for European and American readers; Secondly, using a combination of academic and popular methods to make the translation language concise, easy and fluent; third, in "Appreciation and Criticism", the ideas of The Analects are compared with European and American thinkers, philosophers, writers and critics. Comparing and referencing the important opinions of the famous philosophers and writers, "borrowing the sails to go to sea", allowing Chinese and Western cultures to blend in, and enhancing the understanding and acceptance of The Analects by English readers. This approach has shortened the cultural psychological distance of English readers, and partially eliminated the cultural parallax in understanding China and Chinese culture; so as to better achieve the effect of people-to-people bonds. This approach is very good for the teaching of An Introduction to China., hence the enlightenment effect.


An Introduction to China is a bridge for international students to enter China, and it is also a way for China to enter the world. The effectiveness of this course is to eliminate the fog of international students who are in China but do not understand China, and to dispel the confusion in their hearts that "do not know the true face of Mount Lu, only because they are in this mountain". An Introduction to China is actually a series of courses rather than one course. In the past, treating An Introduction to China as a course was actually an improper way of taking part as the whole. As a result, international students, though they have taken An Introduction to China, actually have no general idea of China, let alone understanding China, Chinese people or Chinese culture. In fact, An Introduction to China should include "China Overview", "Traditional Chinese Culture", and "Contemporary Chinese Culture". As far as international students from all over the world are concerned, the bilingualism of Chinese and English in the course will achieve better effects.

Конфликт интересов Не указан. Conflict of Interest None declared.

Список литературы / References

  1. Cheng A.M. Understanding China / A.M. Cheng. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, 2018.
  2. Fei X.T. On the Reconstruction of the Chinese Culture / X.T. Fei.Shanghai: East China Normal University Press, 2014.
  3. Gu W.L. General Introduction to Chinese Culture / W.L. Gu.Shanghai: East China Normal University Press, 2019.
  4. Liu M.Q. An Outline of Cultural Translation / M.Q. Liu. Beijing: Chinese Translation Publishing House, 2019.
  5. Luo C.P. Language and Culture / C.P. Luo. Beijing: Beijing Publishing House, 2011.
  6. Qian M. Introduction to Chinese Cultural History (Revised Edition) / M. Qian. Beijing: Commercial Press, 1994.
  7. Shi Z.K. Confucius’s Analects: Translation & Critical Comments / Z.K. Shi. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, 2019.
  8. Wang S.H. China: Country Profile / S.H. Wang. Beijing: Peking University Press, 2015.