Chinese Culture


In collectivist cultures such as that of China, the family is seen as the first group that a person joins automatically at birth. Each family has a collective face by which the act of a single individual will impact the perception of all its members by others. The interest of the family is expected to supersede any single individual’s. Also, family members expect to receive preferential treatment in return for their loyalty to the family.

In Confucian thinking, the family contains the most important relationships for each individual and forms the foundations of all social organisation. For instance, the roles between husband and wife, parent and child, elder brother and younger brother are all clearly defined. A husband/father is expected to exhibit dominance and kindness to his wife in return for obedience and love, and offer guidance and protection to his children in return for filial piety, respect and obedience.

Confucian roles are not strictly adhered to anymore, and the younger generation is becoming less family orientated. Nevertheless, children are still expected to obey their parents and honour their elders. Older members of the family must still be supported and cared for. This is in accordance with filial piety, the Confucian tenet that stresses the importance of age.

Within the traditional household hierarchy, the patriarch and family provider was the father or eldest son. He was upheld as the ultimate decision-maker, though some families may have deferred to consulting their elders. The mother’s role was traditionally to fulfil domestic duties and care for the children. Extended family also commonly lived with the immediate family. This household model is now becoming outdated and generally only common in very rural, traditional areas.

As gender equality has been embraced, women are now able to work and exercise authority in family matters. In some metropolitan areas, like Shanghai, women can be more dominant than men in the household. Nevertheless, there is still a gender gap in politics and business. Women who do pursue careers are still likely to depend on their husband or father financially at some point.

The average Chinese household dynamic has evolved away from the traditional archetype as the country has modernised and advanced technologically. Financial success is now a key status symbol. The Chinese government’s One Child policy, which was phased out in 2015, meant that the family’s future prospects rested largely on the shoulders of their only child. While they can now have more than one child, most Chinese parents are still utterly devoted to their children’s success. They ultimately want to see their children be more prosperous than themselves. Therefore, receiving a good education and attending university is highly regarded. However, this is often expressed in a way that puts heavy expectations on the child to excel to meet their parent’s aspirations.

Today many Chinese believe that love is shown through the provision of money to one’s family members. Less focus is being put on personal bonding as parents work harder and for longer to earn more money. More mothers are becoming full-time workers and fathers are often absent due to work-related commitments. It is common for young children to be raised by their grandparents while their parents work away from home. As such, quality family time is scarce. Chinese families also often aim to build or buy a house, as home ownership represents a higher status. These goals entail saving for many years, making thrift and careful money management top priorities for the average Chinese family.

Marriage and Dating
Chinese society is modest and public displays of affection are uncommon. Nevertheless, according to a general health report, the percentage of the population engaging in premarital intercourse has increased from 40% in 1994 to 71.4% in 2012. More than half of the younger Chinese population no longer consider virginity at marriage a serious matter. However, there is a generational divide around this value. Intimate relations engaged in for the sake of pleasure are still discouraged or forbidden by many educational institutions and parents. Virginity is often a prerequisite in a Chinese marriage, and a bride’s husband and family may ask for proof of it.

The permitted age for marriage in China is 22 for men and 20 for women. The Chinese government encourages people to marry later in life to reduce population growth and those who marry before the sanctioned ages are not entitled to the same benefits. Weddings are straightforward. A couple first signs a legal contract at a local government office without ceremony. Celebrations with family and friends happen later. Wedding rings are gaining popularity, but they are not a traditional custom of Chinese marriage, and a woman does not take her husband’s name at marriage.
  • Population
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Languages
    Mandarin (official)
    Plus other dialects
  • Religions
    No Religion (52.5%)
    Folk Religion (21.9%)
    Buddhism (18.2%)
    Christianity (5.1%)
    Islam (1.8%)
    [2010 est.]
    Note: China is officially atheist.
  • Ethnicities
    Han Chinese (91.6%)
    Zhuang (1.3%)
    Other (7.1%)
    [2010 est.]
    Note: The Chinese Government officially recognises 56 ethnic groups including Hui, Manchu, Uighur, Miao, Yi, Tujia, Tibetan, Mongol, Dong, Buyei, Yao, Bai, Korean, Hani, Li, Kazakh, Dai and other nationalities.
  • Cultural Dimensions
    Power Distance 80
    Individualism 20
    Masculinity 66
    Uncertainty Avoidance 30
    Long Term Orientation 87
    Indulgence 24
    What's this?
  • Australians with Chinese Ancestry
    1,213,903 [2016 census]
Chinese in Australia
  • Population
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in China, excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan
  • Average Age
  • Gender
    Male (44.4%)
    Female (55.6%)
  • Religion
    No Religion (63.2%)
    Buddhism (16.2%)
    Catholic Christianity (3.4%)
    Other (11.4%)
  • Ancestry
    Chinese (94.1%)
    English (1.8%)
    Russian (1.4%)
  • Languages
    Mandarin (65.3%)
    Cantonese (22.5%)
    Samoan (2.5%)
    Chinese (6.0%)
  • English Proficiency
    Well (49.41%)
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (48.9%)
    Victoria (29.4%)
    Queensland (8.5%)
    Western Australia (5.2%)
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2001 (38.2%)
    2001-2006 (23.7%)
    2007-2011 (33.7%)
Where do we get our statistics?
Country CN Flag