I.It is important to reflect one’s own national and cultural identity to understand what is different among people of different nations. History teaches us that culture always changes because of internal or external influences, even our own cultures and values change over time. Our world today is a world in which people from different nations and cultures are getting closer and closer because of economical and political reasons. Because cultures are becoming closer, communication is the most important quality for anyone to work on if they want to work in the international society. The history of communication and the relationships that were formed in the early part of worldwide communication still reflect the relationships held between nations today. The question is how have cultural differences evolved as technology increased? Although many things have indeed changed in individual cultures and values, the knowledge of how communications work today can only be learned from studying communications of yesterday.
II.At the turn of the century, Asia seemed very close because of “great modern inventions. However, the close feeling was only on communication terms. Culturally the effect of communication was a very complicated process.
III.Although international communication was non-existent between distant countries only a few hundred years ago, cultural differences are accentuated today as an effect of communication technology.
III.Development of International Communication
A.19th century Asian Culture
B.19th century American Culture
V.America meets new countries
A.Talking to Asia
B.Thoughts of the world about the new player called America
A.Countries who became stronger or weaker (politically and economically) because of communication
B.How did those who became stronger use communication to their advantage? (Politically)
C.How the weaker countries reacted, and exposed themselves to the world as a culture. (If they did)
b.The want for modernization
Culture involves the way people live, work, their thoughts and perceptions of the world. Intercultural communication is a symbolic, interpretive, and contextual process in which the degree of difference between people is large and important enough to create dissimilar interpretations and expectations about what are regarded as competent behaviors that should be used to create shared meanings. A good American and East Asian relationship is important to people on both sides of the ocean because of the grand potential for trade. The degree of difference between people is important in that here is where the confrontations begin, here is where international disagreements begin, here is where wars begin, and here is where the loss of soldiers in war begins. Trade disagreements, and cultural disagreements and any other kind of perceptional difference could potentially cause something so devastating that words cannot describe what the fate of the world could be. With the onset of communication in the 19th century the tension was immense, tomorrow’s technology could be the world’s greatest gift, yet if the world is not mature enough to utilize it, it could also be the world’s greatest devastation.
It is important to reflect on national and cultural identity to understand what is different among people of different nations. History teaches that culture always changes because of internal or external influences; even our own cultures and values change over time. Our world today is a world in which people from different nations and cultures are getting closer and closer because of economic and political reasons. Because cultures are becoming closer, communication is the most important quality for anyone to enhance if they want to work in the international society. The history of communication and the relationships that were formed in the early part of worldwide communication still reflect the relationships held between nations today. The question is how have cultural differences evolved more closely or farther apart as communication increased? Although many things have indeed changed in individual cultures and values, the knowledge of how international relations work today can only be learned from studying that of yesterday.
At the turn of the century the world’s wide gap began closing because of technological advances, which scattered products of civilization and shortened the wide distance between men. Asia seemed very close because of great modern inventions, however the feeling of closeness was only on communications terms. Culturally the effect of new communication between two very different cultures brought about a very complicated result. American influence was nominal at the end of the nineteenth century as compared to the twentieth. The awareness of Western ideas trickled into Asia as imperialism became more pronounced via technological advances. During this time (end of the nineteenth century) the awareness of Western strength induced people to think more about international relations (Asian and American.) When this occurred in the Western powers consciousness, men realized the fact of racial and cultural diversity. Because of communication and a closer feeling to unknown civilizations, the strength of America began to realize that life in one part of the world is no longer inconsequential to life on the other side of the world. New stories of the emergence of civilization arose, the best qualities of mankind differed and total different lives were lived. How could two different truths exist on one planet with such a newfound closeness? The answer is some accepted the closeness and some did not.
The history of communication and the relationships that were formed in the early stages of world communication still reflect the relationships held between nations today. Before the invention of the telegraph, communication could only travel at the speed of the person carrying it. From the moment the technology was first discovered until today, cultures have become closer, relationships between countries have become either stronger or weaker, some countries became more Westernized, some did not. The importance of American international communication began with the first telegraph transmission and still has not ended with the last e-mail that was sent. The importance of studying the first spark in the communication revolution will help determine today’s American international relations as they began and future possibilities of alliances.
Culture is the art, literature, music and other intellectual expression of a particular society or time (Crowther, 285). Culture involves how people live, how they think, and their perceptions of the world. A cultural change would include a change of how a person views their place in the world. Intercultural communication is a symbolic, interpretive, transactional, contextual process in which the degree of difference between people is large and important enough to create dissimilar interpretations and expectations about what are regarded as competent behaviors that should be used to create shared meanings (Koester, 93). Cross-cultural communication is the study of a particular idea or concept within many cultures to compare one culture to another on the aspect of interest. While intercultural communication involves interactions among people from different cultures, cross-cultural communication involves a comparison of interactions among people from the same culture to those from another (Koester, 95). The following is a discussion in the aspect of interaction between nations and cultures when they first encountered each other (via new technological communication of the late 19th century.)
Development of international communication
Today many tendencies are apparently different in the values of those in Japanese society as compared to the late nineteenth century. Values on social relationships increased rather than declined, less value is placed on broad societal concerns, more emphasis on personal feelings and mood, and less value is placed on efficiency and work and more on the balance between work and leisure (Keeplinger 48). The influence of American culture is obvious; the culture of America has influenced the wider culture more than being affected by it. The Asian culture was a self-contained culture; they had their own defined social principles in the realm of human relations, government responsibilities, and moral codes. China was the traditional alley down which the Chinese developed their perceptions of the world (Iriye 34). Before communication was available to the world, Asian officials tended to generalize their opinions about the United States. At the time of the Opium War, Chinese officials felt that American merchants were “good barbarians” (Iriye 35). It is necessary to note the importance of Americans in the formation of the Chinese view of the United States. Permanent communications were not established until the late 1870’s, and contact with foreigners in China was often the only way through which the Chinese further developed their perceptions of the world. Today, much of Asia is underdeveloped, but a number of important exceptions exist.
Japan has successfully modernized its economy, as have Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore. The majority of the continent’s population is employed in agriculture characterized by low yields and low labor productivity. Rice is the food-staple crop of the south and east, although wheat and other dry grains are also grown, and exported to other countries. In Asia’s drier interior regions, the raising of cattle, sheep, and horses are important. Lumbering is an important industry in most Southeast Asian countries. Marine fisheries are extremely important throughout coastal Asia. Japan is the world’s leading fishing country, and China follows closely. Mining also is an important activity in most Asian countries; petroleum is the most important mineral export. Many areas have petroleum resources, but Southwest Asia contains the largest reserves. The comparative advances in Asia sets an excellent base for determining the benefits of communication. This fact is proven in the success of America. The United States also has a wide range of natural advances that sets it apart from the rest of the world. Most of America’s success can be attributed to the fact that if they had to, with the resources available in the country, America could subsist on their own (of course we would miss the Swiss chocolate, and German BMWs!) China has the natural strength to grow, yet even with natural strength- healthy foreign relations are an essential. China, in the majority of examples, did not allow foreign influences to penetrate their culture. Their policy was the preservation of the faith and the state in effect leading to the underdevelopment of much of the region (Iriye 40). The statement earlier said “if they had to. . . America could subsist on their own” is a statement that must be read into. If America must, their strength is grand enough to allow them to survive. However, Americans recognized the importance of using the world community to their benefit, rather than seeing them as ghastly barbarians.
Japan, on the other hand, did allow American influence to penetrate them, and the influence on Japanese culture is overwhelming. Not only is Japan today a prominent state and affected by American influence, Hong Kong has British influence, and the multitude of other examples with Western influence and advanced features. As research goes on American attitudes and perceptions of the rest of the world in mid-nineteenth century, those enlightened’ regarded the notion of human nature different everywhere (Heyer, 64). Within the intellectual circles of America, Charles Darwin’s evolutionary ideas about the history of civilization, religious beliefs, and evolution of man contributed to certain concepts regarding other cultures. Therefore, based on a type of social evolution, which is parallel to human evolution, a sequence of societal development appears: from savagery to barbarism, civilization, hunting, pastoralism, agriculture, and ultimately commerce (Heyer, 64).
The bizarre behavior of the unknown tended to be regarded as primitive, therefore inferior (yet still human, at least!). Although Americans were unsure of moral issues about the Non-Western society, there is no denying the fact that money speaks sense in a language all nations can understand. Good American and East Asian relations were important to Americans because Asia was a potential market. Ending Asian isolation was a frequent theme in public policy statements. Also, it seemed just for Asian countries to be brought into contact with the advanced countries of the West (Iriye, 17). After all, America was the embodiment of perfection, and the satisfaction of going to such a primitive, underdeveloped, and distant land as an advisor and teacher would reap the benefits of great achievement. . . Right??
America meets new countries
Today, there is an obvious occurrence affecting the diversity of world cultures. Also, today the influence from other cultures is natural and expected because the world is so small. Imagine how large the global village was in the nineteenth centuryit was huge, and America was very far away from the other inhabitants. It was not such an expected thing to maintain contact with the family one left behind if they immigrated to America, which, in turn, led to the development of one American culture. This pre-communication American culture expected to live happily alone, and was not too interested in becoming the biggest power in the world. Then came easy communication. At first, it would have been unimaginable how America could become the most powerful nation because of the geographic position in the world; Europe was in the center of it all. When America was able to meet, communicate, trade and take knowledge easier from the rest of the world, her geographic position became supreme and also the nation became supreme. This obvious occurrence, which in 1999 is not so shocking, sparked many countries to ignore the emergence of grand technology in the nineteenth century to save their heritage.
Maybe it is still shocking to nations today. For example, the Chinese government announced in 1996 their rules that were intended to increase control over cyberspace by forcing computer networks to use only the approved links, and they forbade the spread of information that could hinder public order’ (Golding, 1).
When America met China for the first time after easy new communication and easy transportation were developed, the Chinese merely tolerated the Americans and the Americans the Chinese (Iriye, 11). The Chinese remained insensitive to new ideas and changes the Westerners wanted to bring. Japan, on the other hand, was more isolated than China, but open to new ideas. When the West arrived in Japan, they were very receptive of foreign culture and ready to learn from the West because of their pragmatic view of the world. The Japanese engaged in a serious debate, lasting over half a century, on maintaining foreign contact (Iriye, 11). In the end, trade and commerce did open up to Japan, and later the flow of cultures.
Although Great Britain was still the hegemonic power in the early twentieth century, the world was looking at America wondering what it would do next. As communication helped the word spread about this “land of opportunity” more and more people wanted to immigrate, or at least come to America to see what all the talk was about.
Many Chinese and Japanese came to the United States and saw it first hand from the 1860’s on (Iriye, 39). For the Chinese the personal meeting did not make as grand of an impression as it did for the Japanese. For example, the Japanese were almost desperately interested in learning more about the military strength and power that the West held. However, the Chinese government was perfectly happy with maintaining their status quo. Although it is difficult to talk about an evolution of Chinese policy toward the United States, the reason is well understood; No clear formulation of policy towards the United States was felt necessary. The fact is that China, in the beginning, never considered America as a direct threat (Iriye, 44). Because of Japan’s grand interest in the Western strength, particularly America’s strength, between two and three hundred Japanese students were studying in America by the year 1873 (Iriye, 45). The product of science and technology impressed all; railroads, arsenals, the gaslight, flush toilet, and many other material progresses were studied and brought back to Japan.
To put it lightly, Japan loved America and the modernisms she brought. Japan loved the moderninity so much that she sold her soul for the new flashy lights of the West. When Japan met America, she did not think of the political and economic changes it would bring and the fact that Japan wanted it separate from social and ideological changes. They did want Western methods, yet technology, but they did not discuss the implications that brought with it. It was known that the Western countries were powerful and aggressive, yet Japan opened her doors freely to America and the Chinese chose to keep them closed for the most part. The first meeting of Asia to America was with mixed, unknown emotions (meeting defined as economic, political, or cultural interaction.) These mixed emotions lead toward tension. Tension with Japan and tension with China.
The beginning description of tension the newfound communication brought to the world can be exemplified with the Open Door notes of 1899. Although this document is a commitment by the United States Government to a positive policy in China, and an agreement from the rest of the world to not divide China into colonies, tension was the reason for the establishment of this treaty. International interest was aroused in East Asia, economically, militarily, and religiously. America wanted the policy actually to assert America’s rights more vigorously in East Asia (Iriye, 80). The United States was eager to cooperate with Great Britain and no other country. Hence, the result was a series of notes sent to various governments asking to adhere to three principles: non-interference within the existing spheres of influence in China, the uniform application of Chinese treaty tariffs at all ports within these spheres, and non-discrimination regarding railroad charges and harbor dues in these spheres.
The Open Door policy gave a negative response to public demand for a positive and vigorous assertion of American rights and interests in China. Physically, the United States was expanding into Asia, and the separation was narrowing at the close of the nineteenth century. Japan was entering the expansionist stage of modernization and China looked to be taking steps toward modernization. But, America had penetrated Chinese and Japanese consciousness and culture, and they were little aware of the implications for the future emergence of the United States as an imperialist. Many who look at the reform tend to see an East-West confrontation (Iriye, 82). Indeed, a confrontation was what it was, even though it was not as though each country stood in each other’s face. In fact, America’s central factor in the Open Door plan was to safeguard her interests and practice a policy of passive economics, only protecting American business interests. America would practice anything to protect interests in Asia, and the Open Door notes of 1899 were extended to protect American rights abroad, not Chinese rights at home. It was an American policy, intended to safeguard American interests, and there was no reason why the Chinese should feel interested in it (Irye, 82).
Between 1900 and 1905, for the first time in history, China recognized to an extent that relations with the rest of the world were not an issue of the Chinese versus a barbarian culture in the West. They looked through a worldview to explain their own problems. With the newfound worldview perspective, China’s recent past was seen as a page in human history when communication brought all the lands and peoples together. Western imperialism had resulted from the lust in the overseas markets, which was necessitated by the technological advances. A struggle between independence and imperialism welcomed the beginning of the twentieth century with the Boxer rebellion and the Open Door notes. The Chinese people realized they must unite with officials to resist foreign encroachment, and together modernize the country and emerge as a strong nation. There were, of course, various views of this hotbed of a situation, and some of the revolutionaries disagreed with the reformers of the time. All of these differences in time led to a crisis, and by 1912, the dynasty had been overthrown. Such developments would have not occurred if the nature of imperialism and the necessity of “saving” China did not take on such drastic measures (Iriye, 86).
The United States was regarded just as the other imperialist powers were. In fact, America was seen as even more so because of her power. Beginning in 1912 with the crumbling of the dynasty and tradition, China began a new period of relations with the outside world. What little Chinese foreign policy existed revealed the same characteristics of disorientation and chaos that were manifested previously internally and externally (Mancall, 128). For example, on June 21, 1870 the Tianjin Massacre occurred. The French fired on China because of an antiforeign demonstration. The demonstrators killed the local magistrate, and twenty more foreigners (mostly French), including ten nuns. This incident exposed as a sham the policy of cooperation that was intended to protect the Empire’s interests only so long as the empire did not assert them (Mancall, 129). This confusion in the country and the constant “parents eye” by outside countries over Chinese practices brought about uprisings and chaos on who actually was running the country.
Again, on October 10, 1911 there was a revolutionary outbreak in the Empire. By the middle of December 1911 the provinces in China declared their independence. Amid the confusion, individuals of many different political persuasions agreed that national unity was necessary to prevent foreign intervention. Foreign relations therefore became a primary focus of their internal politics (Mancall, 199). The threat of foreigners and invasions, now because of the ease of travel, communication, and transportation of commodities was significant to the point that China was ready to go back in her turtle shell and hide.
One man in China spoke aloud about benefits that reform and boundless thinking could bring. Tan Sitong (1865-1898) was an intelligent and original thinker who was prepared to speak out. He talked about breaking the mold of tradition and the only way for the Empire to save itself would be through complete westernization (Mancall, 198).
He said in writing to a friend:
Your letter says that during the last several decades Chinese scholars and officials have been trying to talk about “foreign matters,” but they have achieved absolutely nothing, and on the contrary, they have been driving the men of ability in the empire into foolishness, greed, and cheating. Sitong thinks that not only do you not know what is meant by “foreign matters,” but also that you are ignorant of the meaning of discussion. In China, during the last several decades, where have we had genuine understanding of foreign culture? When have we had scholars or officials who could discuss them? If they had been able to discuss foreign matters, there would have been no such incident as we have today (the defeat of China by Japan.) What you mean by foreign matters are things that you have seen, such as steamships, telegraph lines, trains, guns, cannon, torpedoes, and machines for weaving and for metallurgy; that’s all. You have never dreamed of nor seen the beauty or perfection of western legal systems and political institutions. . . all that you speak of are the branches and foliage of foreign matters, not the root.(Mancall, 198)
Sitong’s voice was loud yet solitary. He was executed shortly after a coup in China.
The failure of the self-strengthening movement and the dimming of the lights to bright new innovations occurring in the rest of the world did not mean that no attempt was made to understand how foreign nations conducted their international relations. The rise of new leaders in 1860 in the capital and provinces changed the political climate a little bit. Although there was warning by the Prince of dramatic changes, a new approach to foreign affairs set the tone for a new era. The new leaders gave hope to progressive officials for future changes. In 1865 and 1866 Robert Hart and Thomas Wade presented a constructive memorandum for the dynasty’s regeneration, the court felt confident and open-minded enough to circulate it among top officials for discussion. The possibility of restoring order and sound government did not hide the awareness of the problems brought about by the Western presence. In 1867, not only was the protection of Chinese sovereignty and interests under unfavorable terms of unequal treaties and physical danger of further imperialist infiltration a central point of worry, but also the unprecedented situation of wanting modernization without an imperial take over (Pong, 257). In other words, the Chinese were aware of the wonderful opportunities available in the world, the problem was how to receive and achieve them with out the loss of culture. To an extent the mere realization of China about the world community is a great step forward in the evolution of relationships between countries. Now, the work is to figure out a balance between closer contact and maintaining personal culture.
The history of communication and the relationships that were formed in the early part of worldwide communication still reflect the relationships held between nations today. Those effects are the most significant because they defined the way that economic and political systems interact today. Since communication made possible the mixture of cultures at a great distance, the knowledge of international relations before and after the onset of communication will teach how each culture influenced the next. In what way did communication influence the evolution of the world’s people and their interactions? The answer is our national and cultural identity was forever changed; yet the amount it changed depended on the thousands of years of isolated identity each culture created for themselves.
Asian culture was, and still is a culture that has a strong hold on its roots in the past. Those strong feelings are the basic definition of today’s good (or bad) interactions between two countries. With the ever-closing rift of communication through technological advances, communication is the greatest vital world sense for every nation to improve upon. The turn of the 19th century is a great historical example to reflect on because then was the maiden voyage of international communication. Today we are embarking on a new era just as our grandparents were only a century ago. The speed and quality of communication, and the rapid mergence of peoples from different nations will not be stopped, but how will these people actually get along with each other? This is the colossal question for the next millennium and the answer comes from the past. The racial and cultural diversity of the world caused tension, and struggles for dominance, and prejudice. With the perpetual growth of technology, international relations will be forced to exist on friendly terms and the closeness of each nation should learn to accept each other as well as grasp on to native traditions.
Culture involves the way people live, work, their thoughts and perceptions of the world. Intercultural communication is a symbolic, interpretive, and contextual process in which the degree of difference between people is large and important enough to create dissimilar interpretations and expectations about what are regarded as competent behaviors that should be used to create shared meanings. A good American and East Asian relationship is important to people on both sides of the ocean because of the grand potential for trade. The degree of difference between people is important to study in that here is where the confrontations begin, here is where international disagreements begin, here is where wars begin, and here is where the loss of soldiers in war begins. Trade disagreements, and cultural disagreements and any other kind of perceptional difference could potentially cause something so devastating that words cannot describe what the fate of the world could be. With the onset of communication in the 19th century the tension was immense, tomorrow’s technology could be the world’s greatest gift, yet if the world is not mature enough to utilize it, it could also be the world’s greatest devastation.
Edelstein, Alex S., and Youichi Ito, and Hans Kepplinger. Communication and Culture:
A Comparative Approach. New York: Longman, 1989.
Golding, Peter, and Phil Harris, eds. Beyond Cultural Imperialism: Globalization,
Communication and the New International Order. London: Sage Publications,
Heyer, Paul. Communications and History: Theories of Media, Knowledge, and
Civilization. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.
Irye, Akira. Across the Pacific: An Inner History of American-East Relations. New
York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc, 1967.
Koester, Jolene, and Myron Lustig. Intercultural Communication and Competence. Vol
17.California: Sage Publications, 1993
Mancall, Mark. China at the Center: 300 Years of Foreign Policy. New York: The Free
Pong, David, and Edmund S.K. Fung, eds. Ideal and Reality: Social and Political
Change in Modern China. Lanham: University press of America, 1985.
Fogel, Joshua A. The Cultural Dimension of Sino-Japanese Relations: Essays on
the nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. NewYork: M.E. Sharpe, 1995.
Chang, Gordon H. Friends and Enemies: The United States, China, and the Soviet
Union, 1948-1972. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990.
Carbaugh, Donal, ed. Cultural Communication and Intercultural Contact. New Jersey:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 1990.
Hart, Robert. The Eccentric Tradition: American Diplomacy in the Far East. New York:
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1976.
Fischer, Heinz-Dietrich, and John Calhoun Merrill, eds. International and Intercultural
Communication. New York: Hastings House Publishers, 1970.