Chinese Culture – Class 3

Chinese community

As the 19th century opened with expanding westward maritime trade, Chinese began to emigrate from southern China. They were looking for better opportunities and to aid their families back home.

Early immigrants maintained many Chinese values and traditions. One institution that worked with Chinese was Cleveland’s Old Stone Church.


The family is one of the most important aspects of Chinese culture. Traditional Chinese families are patriarchal, follow the rule of patrilineal descent, and are based on the concept of filial piety and kinship loyalty. The family is also a major source of social support.

The ideal family consists of three generations living together with the children taking care of the elderly parents. It is taboo to refer to a senior family member by their given name and instead they are addressed using kinship terms such as Da (great/senior), Er (second eldest daughter of one’s mother), San (third eldest daughter of one’s mother) etc.

Chinese family culture is influenced by Confucian values such as harmony, benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom, loyalty and filial piety. In addition, ancestor worship serves to strengthen family ties and kinship attachments as well as uphold the patriarchal structure of the differential patrilocal family (Hsu 1971). The visiting of gravesites at the Qingming (“Tomb-Sweeping”) festival is an important element of this practice.


While China has dramatically expanded educational opportunities, the quality of instruction still varies greatly. Official policy emphasizes scholastic achievement and places great emphasis on the natural sciences, although there are significant efforts to enhance vocational training. After the damage done to the education system during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, an effort has been made to promote a broad-based curriculum with greater attention to social science and humanities.

Chinese immigrants generally have higher levels of education than foreign-born and U.S.-born populations overall. In 2021, 52 percent of Chinese immigrants ages 25 and over had at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 30 percent for all foreign-born adults and 14 percent for the U.S.-born population. Education is compulsory from ages six to fifteen. Students are separated into primary education (xiao xue), lower secondary school (chu zhong) and upper secondary school (gao zhong). Almost all schools are public. Private institutions exist as well and include evening universities, workers’ colleges, television universities and correspondence schools.


In a culture that values honesty and straightforwardness, Chinese people communicate openly with those in their social circles. This forthrightness enables them to tackle difficult topics with ease, fostering stronger connections and harmonious interactions.

Their adaptability and open-mindedness enable them to find creative solutions to societal changes or individual challenges. For example, they swiftly adapted to new safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic and embrace digital advancements for remote work and learning.

A robust work ethic permeates the entire culture, encouraging individuals to pursue their ambitions while also contributing to society’s progress. Spirituality also holds significance, with many individuals engaging in rituals that instill a sense of inner peace and a deep connection to their cultural heritage. Combined with their boisterous spirit, these qualities foster strong bonds and a shared sense of community.


Many Chinese believe in folk religions and some of them also adhere to institutional religious beliefs. This year, our survey introduced new response categories and a forced-choice question format to better capture the complexity of Chinese individuals’ religious belief. This has allowed us to identify a distinct group of believers who are most likely to believe in Buddha/bodhisattva, Daoist deities, geomancy, and ghosts. This group is referred to as Class 3 in this report.

The veneration of ancestors and divination are two aspects of Chinese religion that have outlived ancient dynasties. These practices can be found in all faiths practiced by the Chinese people. In addition to ancestral rites, the worship of local gods that are the generative power and tutelary spirits of a village, a larger community, or even the Chinese nation is another important feature of traditional Chinese religion. The government continues its multiyear campaign of “Sinicization” that requires all religious groups to align their doctrines with the Communist Party and state. In this regard, it has encouraged clergy to attend political indoctrination sessions and suggest content for sermons that emphasize loyalty to the party and the state.

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