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More than 400 high school students from China and the United States gathered in the mega-city of Shanghai this month to tackle issues ranging from human rights to air quality to income inequality. Participating in the Global Student Leaders Summit developed by EF Educational Tours meant collaborating in real time with team members from different life experiences, language and cultural traditions, and world views. "We didn't come here for easy," said a student from Jackson, Mississippi.
Born in China, Feng moved with her family to the United States when she was a child and moved back to Beijing in 2003. She returned with more than just a strong American accent: she brought back knowledge of western culture, particularly a love of rock music.
As Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping travels to the United States this week -- a trip designed in part to head off mounting tensions between the two countries -- GlobalPost correspondent Kathleen McLaughlin reports from Beijing on the growing influence of Western culture on Chinese youth.
A Westerner who first moves to China—a country that developed in isolation for much of its history—faces two major challenges. The first is understanding the Chinese language, often regarded as one of the world's most difficult to master. But the second is possibly even more vexing: cultural differences.
As more Americans go to mainland China to take jobs, more Chinese and Americans are working side by side. These cross-cultural partnerships, while beneficial in many ways, are also highlighting tensions that expose differences in work experience, pay levels and communication.
Last year, the editors of ArtReview magazine named the Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei the most powerful artist in the world. It was an unusual choice. Ai’s varied, scattershot work doesn’t fetch the highest prices at auction, and critics, while they admire his achievement, don’t treat him as a master who has transformed the art of his period. In China, Ai—a brave and unrelenting critic of the authoritarian regime—has spent time in jail, was not allowed by the government to leave Beijing for a year and cannot travel without official permission. As a result, he has become a symbol of the struggle for human rights in China, but not preeminently so. He is too quixotic a figure to have developed the moral gravitas of the great men of conscience who challenged the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century.