关系 (Guanxi) in the Chinese culture and its Ju/’hoansi Counterpart

Guanxi is a common terminology used in the Chinese culture. It denotes a complex system of personal relationship as well as moral obligations within the Chinese society. This form of relationship often forms one of the basic foundations of a corporate business set-up in China. More often than not, guanxi is seen as a business booster, a must for any company that seeks to go beyond its borders. Due to the moral obligation attached with the term, guanxi is essentially used as a tool for individuals with close ties with those in power to climb both the social and corporate ladder. As in the case highlighted by the New York Times, family of Premier Wen Jia Bao possesses assets that total up to US$2.7billion. A stunning amount indeed. No doubt the play of guanxi has been involved, where Premier Wen’s position has been manipulated for gains of the family. This is the extent of the moral obligation and the basics of guanxi, to allow one’s position to be used such that their close associates can stand to benefit.

On the other hand, the hxaro exchange system is an exchange system built upon a strict structure of relationship. It is also the process of exchange that kept the relationship between the two parties going. Should the exchange between the two individuals ceased to exist, the relationship would then be severed. However at the same time, this exchange system is founded upon a policy of exchanging with people, not goods. As a result, the cost of the goods exchange is not considered; instead, the exchange is weighed solely upon the intimacy of the relationship.

The hxaro exchange system, built upon a network of relationships can also be viewed in accordance to the guanxi in the Chinese culture. Comparing both forms of relationship in the different culture highlights similarities amidst the differences. Both hxaro exchange and guanxi have been founded as a form of relationship. These relationship involve a certain form of moral obligation of exchange of goods to be kept going. However, on the end of the hxaro exchange, the cost of the goods is not the basis of comparison, instead, the closeness of the relationship is used as the benchmark. The Chinese however, often forget the emotional aspect of the relationship, weighing it simply against the monetary gains they would receive. Hence, looking at both relationship and comparing them would simply be looking at a relationship with a human touch versus a superficial relationship based on materialistic gains so to speak. Perhaps, this situation could be attributed to the society they were founded in, the Ju/’hoansi society is a primitive society that places little value on money or economic gains. However, the Chinese society is a highly competitive society where economic gains and status are treasured. Consequently, would it be right to say that it is the process of modernisation that pushes one to forget its humanity, merely looking for material gains, to climb the social ladder? Afterall, mankind is here to fight for survival.

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