Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Look at ancient China

While people settled present-day Beijing as early as 1,000 BC, it wasn't until 1 October 1949 that the People's Republic of China emerged, after centuries of war and strife. The revered Chairman Mao Zedong struggled to overcome the effects of ancient fuedalism and colonialism to create a new China.

I spent the day visiting part of China's rich history. A was asked to accompany a group to Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City. An entire day was still not enough to soak in all of the history of this part of China's story. Tianamen Square was the chosen place for many royal ceremonies while the Forbidden City was the center of China's government and home of centuries of China's royal family.

The most significant aspect of today was the events surrounding my tour of the Square. I manage several cooks from culinary schools throughout China. A group of six cooks from Shanghai extended the invitation for me to join them on their tour. This is significant because the Chinese rarely interact with Westerners. This was an expression of deep respect and honor.

The Chinese, according to their culture, live by guanxi - a belief in honor and respect according to status. They seek out the person or people of highest standing and try to draw closer to them by showering them with invitations and gifts. The fact that I was invited to accompany them on this excursion was a mark of guanxi and I feel deeply honored.

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