Influence of American Culture on Chinese Culture

by Ma Wen Jie

The history of Chinese culture can be traced back more than 5,000 years. Although different periods were based on a number of different cultures, including Han, Mongol and Manchurian cultures, rapid introduction of American cultural influence began in the late 20th century and continue to present times. While older Chinese people may reject some American influences, many younger Chinese people adopt foreign practices and concepts easily.

Fast-Food

McDonald's in Shenyang, China

In the past, fast food in China was considered a street vendor serving one of many unusual local specialties or noodles. However, Kentucky Fried Chicken opened its first restaurant in Beijing in 1987. This initial opening has now lead to the introduction of other American corporate fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. In addition, local versions of fast food, including noodle shops and hamburger restaurants that cater to more local tastes, have now become popular.

Clothing

Nike shop in Beijing, China

Western clothing began to become popular in China in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Throughout the Republic of China on Taiwan, Western forms of dress have continued to be popular to the present day. However, during certain periods in the People's Republic of China, Western clothing was shunned in favor of traditional Chinese peasant clothing. In recent times, U.S. brands such as Nike and Adiddas have risen in popularity. U.S. fashion trends, like T-shirts and blue jeans, are as popular in China as in the West.

Internet Use

People surf the web at an Internet cafe in China

In the late 20th century, the Internet was virtually unknown in China. In the past 10 years, Internet use and the influence of U.S. companies like Google and Yahoo has surged in China, thus bringing searchable information into the Chinese culture. The availability of information has brought foreign concepts and influences, many from the United States, into Chinese culture. In 2010, Google began forwarding all Chinese Internet searches to its Hong Kong servers in retaliation for hacking on Google user accounts. Google claims the hacking was initiated by the Chinese government, which categorically denied any involvement.

Music

A Chinese teenager listens to music

U.S. and European-style rock music has heavily influenced Chinese popular music. Musicians like Wu Bai and other popular rock bands borrow from U.S. rock traditions, while adding influences of Chinese music. The resulting popular music is very different from traditional Chinese music, but is still distinctive to the Chinese culture.

Hollywood

A Chinese family watches a movie on TV

Hollywood movies influence tastes and views in Chinese culture. From fashion to beliefs about desirable lifestyles, Hollywood movies mold viewpoints of many Chinese people, especially young people. Hollywood movies sometimes introduce concepts foreign to traditional Chinese culture, such as certain ideas on personal freedom.

About the Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.

Photo Credits

  • China Photos/Getty Images News/Getty Images