Seeking common ground while putting differences aside (求同存异 – qiú tóng cún yì), and other idioms1 min readReading Time: < 1 minute
In many ways China is like a parallel universe.
It’s a huge country which is impossible to describe simply, or in the absolutes often used in the West to do so.
China is a Confucian society. In a Confucian society, there are Five Constant Virtues: 仁 (rén ), benevolence; 义 (yì ), righteousness; 礼 (lǐ), propriety; 智 (zhì ), wisdom; and 信 (xìn ), fidelity).
Concepts of balance and ambiguity come up regularly in dealings with Chinese, which all flow back to this Confucian way of thinking. Such as:
求同存异 (qiú tóng cún yì) – seeking common ground while putting differences aside.
This is a very useful idiom (and approach) in a negation scenario. It’s the same as the strategy of parking sensitive items in the discussions until more common ground has been established in the less contentious areas.
Another common idiom that is also used in the same was is:
和而不同 (Hé ér bùtóng) – to seek harmony but not conformity
And another (I could probably go on for a lot longer…)
兼容并蓄 (Jiān róng bìng xù) – inclusiveness, eclectic
It’s helpful to use idioms such as these to better understand why, sometimes frustratingly, it’s so hard to work out what’s really going on as things are often kept intentionally ambiguous.