7 Important Things You Can Learn From The Chinese Work Ethic

China is considered to be an economic superpower and with good reason. People from Asian countries are often referred to as hard working and China is no exception. The Chinese culture work ethic is based on a Confucian Principle, which demands respect for the elderly and perfection in work. Although Confucius was a philosopher centuries ago, his teachings are held in highest regard in China today and shape their society and culture.

The Chinese do not shirk away from hard work, but embrace it, believing it begets success. Discussed below are seven aspects of the Chinese culture work ethic we can learn from:


1) Time Perception

Punctuality is extremely important in China and is even considered a virtue. The Chinese are always on time (if not early) and will easily take offence to tardiness. The same is seen even in Japan. The rules concerning time and punctuality are somewhat lax in India. It isn’t uncommon to arrive 10-15 minutes after the designated time. However, this attitude would not work well in a country like China.

2) Focus on results

The Chinese have several proverbs that demonstrate their attitude towards hard work. The ethos of the Chinese culture work ethic is that hard work pays off and contributes to a happy life. One such proverb is shìshàng wú nánshì, which translates to “nothing is impossible to a willing mind”. The Chinese use sheer determination and diligence to achieve their goals, whatever it may be. This attitude and principle is a strong reason for the presence of many Chinese owned companies and projects flourishing world over.

3) Chi Ku 

The Chinese are driven by results and leave no stone unturned in delivering the best. A 2014 Wall Street Journal article, reported that the average Chinese worker puts in somewhere between 2,000 and 2,200 hours each year. This again goes back to the Confucian work ethic, one aspect of which being “Chi Ku” – the act of persisting through hardship. Chi Ku is a valued way to earn respect — and possibly a promotion.

4) Success isn’t left to chance

You’ve heard the saying “hard work beats talent” Well, that’s something the Chinese attest to. Right from school, the Chinese are taught that anything can be achieved through hard work and diligence, not just talent. And this is testament to the fact that they are referred to as an economic superpower. In a time where global economies are plummeting, China continues to show staggering growth. Their rapid development over that last decade isn’t because of their technological advancement – it’s a tip of the hat to the Chinese culture work ethic of the locality.

5) Striving for Perfection

You’ve heard of several western companies employing a predominantly Asian workforce. This is purely because of how willing they are to reach their end goal. This isn’t to say that people from other parts of the world aren’t hardworking, but the Chinese are hard-wired to achieve success. Being competitive and having a goal-oriented spirit is inherent to every Chinese person and is further instilled at a very young age. The proof lies in the fact that multitudes of their countrymen are employed in companies all over the world.

6) Laziness is a crime

American satirist Mark Twain once observed that “a lazy Chinaman does not exist,” and added, “He always manages to find something to do.”

Mr Twain pretty much summed it up there. The Chinese didn’t get to where they are today by sitting around, twiddling their thumbs. The Chinese are so used to working hard that many of their companies reward employees for completing a project in advance. In fact, the norm is to finalise projects in the shortest possible time to take on a new one.

7) Don’t just work hard, work smart

Everyone in China strives to do their best, especially when the going gets tough. Obstacles or inconveniences don’t deter them – they just find a way around it. They come up with alternate methods to achieve their goals. The Chinese have a phrase for it – cha bu duo, which translates to “good enough”. In cha bu duo, the focus is less on process and rules and more on the result.
Now that you have a better understanding of the Chinese culture work ethic, it is time you chase new footprints and transform your career with an internship from China. Visit AIESEC for a Global Volunteer Program spread in leading countries across the globe. You can check out our blog on how to prepare for an internship interview and 6 countries that have an easy visa process for Indians for deeper insights.

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rohit aggarwal
3 years ago

thank you aiesec for giving such wonderful information