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About China

China is huge, enormous even! China has over 1,3 billion inhabitants, over 160 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants and is about 230 times larger than the Netherlands. However, it is impossible to fetch the real China in numbers and statistics. Even though the public interest in China is increasing, the main focus in the news is often on political and economic developments.

Since 1949, China is ruled by the Communist Party of China (CPC). Since 1978, the year in which Deng Xiaoping’s progressive reforms opened up China to the world, the country has gone through a tremendous transformation. From a inward and less developed country, China has managed to become one of the world’s largest economies. However, within China the differences between living standards and perspective differ enormously. Farmers in the west of China are hardly comparable to the growing elite in the cities near the cost in the east.

That diversity is one of the main characteristics of China. Not only can you find everything in the range of deserts to rainforests in China, but also its inhabitants tend to surprise you. Because they value their families, ancestors and their birthplaces, they are often more than willing to tell you more about their regional cultures.

China is a superpower and the Chinese influence in the world will only increase. To work together in various fields, either in the academic world or in business, it is important to know a little more about China. Respect for and knowledge of Chinese culture will open doors for you that will otherwise remain closed. In this section of StudentOrient you’ll find information on studying and working in China. We wish you luck, or as the Chinese would say, zhù ni hao yùn.

China´s surface encompasses such a vast area, that almost any type of climate can be found. It is important to check rainy seasons, as monsoons strongly influence the weather. But in general, it is safe to say that summers are hot and humid and winters are cold and dry. Be prepared!

Interesting facts

• Reincarnation is forbidden in China unless you have explicit governmental permission! 
• Since China has joined five time zones into one, sunrise can be at 5 to 10 am, depending on your position in China!
• China uses 45 billion chopsticks per year.

Studying in China

Studying in China is something completely different than studying in the Netherlands. While we learn that our input is valuable, Chinese students are educated in a more hierarchical framework, where they rarely interrupt or criticize their teachers. Also, their work ethos is different than ours. Our ‘zesjescultuur’ is almost impossible to explain to a Chinese student. Working hard is a central element in Chinese upbringing and most students work hard to fulfill their parents’ expectations.

Lectures may be less interactive than you’re used to. But where Chinese students seem to be asleep (literally), they actually absorb all information and are able to reproduce it perfectly. Teachers and students will probably find it remarkable if you interrupt the lecture. However, if you tend to be polite, understanding and maybe a little less direct, they will value your input and you will be able to fit in more easily.

China's universities differ in quality and not all universities offer English courses. However, 21 of China’s universities are ranked in the QS top 100 of best Asian universities. Worldwide, three Chinese universities reach the top 100: Peking University (#46), Tsinghua University (#48) and Fudan University (#88). In total, 328,330 international students have studied in China in 2012. This number is increasing every year. And hopefully, you will be one of those in future!

Practical matters

You can try to arrange an exchange together with you Dutch home university. Also, you can apply through the China Scholarship Council (CSC) or the Chinese embassy. You’ll probably need a health statement, copies of your academic transcript and letters of recommendation. Also, you can expect to pay a small registration fee, ranging between €40 and €80,-.

Some universities offer English courses. However, if you want to apply to a Chinese program, you are asked to proof your Chinese Proficiency.  Leiden University offers HSK exams (See here) .

If you’re going on exchange, it is important to check whether your home university recognizes your credits. Also, foreign certificates may be treated differently. You can check this here! For more practical matters concerning China, click here!

Working in China

In China, the office culture is a little different than in the Netherlands. Here,  feedback is highly valued, while Chinese coworkers would never directly criticize each other. To be criticized is seen as loss of face. In addition to this, hierarchy is much stricter in China than in the Netherlands. The more senior you are, the more privileges you get. And, again, it is not done to criticize your seniors, definitely not openly.

Furthermore, the work ethos of your Chinese colleagues might overwhelm you at first. Officially, the Chinese have a 44-hour work week. But in practice, Chinese employees tend to stay in at least as long as their superiors.

China’s economy is still developing rapidly. However, the growing middle class makes China less attractive as an outsourcing base. The Chinese authorities recognize this trend and have started to transform the Chinese economy into a knowledge economy. Therefore, a lot of emphasize is laid on research and development. Technological progress is thought to be the driving force of the Chinese economy in the next decades. Also, the Chinese seek the solution for many of their challenges in technology. The aging population, the rapid urbanization and the environmental issues are just a few of these challenges.

Working in China will grant you the opportunity to work in a country that continuously renews itself. Because we know one thing for sure, China is booming and its influence is only increasing!

Facts about China

Population      1,384,694,199
Size (km²)9,596,961
Time zoneUTC+8
GDP per capita$6,853,- 

What does it mean to be a Chinese citizen today?

Peter van der Veer
Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

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