China, Christian

...or rapidly becoming so. Curtsy to Brett McS for sending me this piece on China's being on course to be the largest Christian nation. He also flattered me by noting ..."as seen first on Wheat & Weeds," and it's true, we've been noting trends in Chinese Christianity since 2008 at least (see here and here).

Speaking of China, how about a foray into stereotypes cultural differences?  At Easter dinner a young cousin of ours who is a mechanical engineer for an American tool company was telling about his experiences supervising the production of tools at various company plants: in South Carolina, in Mexico, and chiefly in China.

Someone asked him about the supposed inferiority of the American worker versus the Chinese and he made the interesting observation that no one can touch the Chinese for industry -- they are eager for work and most have multiple jobs and work hard and long. However, in his experience the Chinese are not great problem solvers. He cited a couple of examples, including an instance where a part was coming out in the wrong shape and the fellow running the machine insisted on simply replacing a spring. It took my cousin to resolve the issue.

I asked Brett McS, who has also worked extensively in China, whether he agreed with that observation. He said he's found it to be true of individual workers, but that in situations where Chinese workers are permitted to work in teams, they become great problem solvers:
When there is a problem they all (about a dozen) get together and chatter back and forth, and after five or ten minutes will typically come up with an excellent solution (say to assembling some components of the loco without having the specific tools for the job).
He says these observers call these "Tiger Teams," and that to his mind Westerners don't do teamwork as well -- too individualistic, perhaps.

Isn't that interesting? Our cousin made another observation, drawn from his efforts to learn Chinese.  Maybe others understand this well but it was a new thought to me: since Chinese is a tonal language, it's difficult to express emotion with it, because if you change the tone you change the word.  Our cousin used the example of an exasperated kid sighing, "Mo-o-o-m" at his lame-o parent. You can't do that in Chinese.  Does this difference in language account for the pronounced difference in attitude about the importance of the individual?  And to what extent might Christianity change that over time (see, I brought it back 'round. You didn't think I was going to didja?)