Cultural conflicts in real life

By Xin Zhiming ( ) Updated: 2014-05-23 10:18:17

What's in movies could happen in real life.

In a 2001 movie, The Gua Sha Treatment, a Chinese family in the US is almost driven mad after the grandfather, who came from the mainland to visit his son, gives his grandson a treatment of Gua Sha to combat fever and is later taken by local authorities and accused of committing child abuse. The family goes through a lot of trouble to get their child back after he’s taken away by the local child protection agency.

As a traditional Chinese therapy that is easy-to-acquire and useful, Gua Sha involves scraping the skin with a dull-edged household instrument, such as a silver coin, soup spoon or tender wooden board, to help stimulate the inner functioning of the body to combat diseases. The treatment leaves painful-looking red splotches (Sha) in the skin, although patients actually seldom feel pain.

Recently, a Chinese mother in Spain was detained by police and sued for alleged child abuse after she conducted Gua Sha treatment for her 9-year-old son in attempt to cure his cold and cough and left stretches of red splotches on her son’s back. Although she later hired a lawyer to successfully plead to the court and got the charge dropped, her story is a vivid illustration of cultural shock and conflict.

It can be excluded that there is any discrimination against the Chinese in the Spanish case. Rather, it is commendable that the local authorities had strict laws and law-implementation procedures to protect children, something that China can learn.

As exchanges between China and other countries increase, more and more cases involving cultural shock and conflicts have appeared in media reports.

A typical example known to many is that British people often start their conversation by commenting on weather conditions while the Chinese in some places asked each other whether they have already had breakfast or lunch (although fewer and fewer Chinese people nowadays start their talks that way).

Such cultural differences are trivial and harmless. They would not bring much trouble to the people involved. But in some cases, such lack of cultural rapport could be annoying and even cause legal actions.

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