(This article is Xiaoming Guo‘s answer to a Quora question.)
Western culture is Christian culture. Christian culture considers that Human Nature is selfish and greedy, or the sin. Human has sin naturally in the eyes of the West. “Thank you” is a formal etiquette that maintains the relationship between individuals. In the west, Human is evil in essence.
Chinese culture is a Confucian culture. Confucian culture considers that Human Nature is good and kind. If one is selfish and greedy, it is because he or she gets bad cultivation. Chinese society is built by altruistic relationships. Confucius emphasized the relation between parents and children, between brothers and sisters, and extended these altruist family relations to the whole society. When C does B a favor, it is considered Natural. If the B says “thank you”, C will consider that B is not taking C as a best friend. A best friend is just like a family member. They share the livings together without distinguishing personal boundaries. A “thank you” marked a personal boundary. “Thank you” is used for a stranger, or new friends, or formal business transactions.
The west used “thank you” very often to reflect Western individualism. Everyone has a boundary with others. China is a society without so much of a personal boundary. Best friends are a collective entity, “thank you” will split the entity into two separate identities. It indicates a transaction between two entities.
The West exchange gifts among family members at Christmas. It is viewed as ridiculous in China. Chinese family shares the income and the property. The wife is supposed can use the money earned by her husband. You can not send something to someone that she is already entitled to. Exchange gifts or “thank you” will destroy the family. It splits the solid entity of a family into separate individual entities.
Chinese society is functioning based on altruism. Western society is functioning based on self-interest.
Western sociologists, regardless of Karl Marx or Max Weber, view the society as conflicts of interest. Taoism and Confucian view society as a harmonic whole.
The West may not understand why Xi would like to build a harmonic society. Harmonic society is the ideal of Confucian society. The West is fear that China becomes too strong and like the west will be greedy and put national interest above the world. They are using their mindset to speculate on Chinese behaviors.
Please think about why China doesn’t need “thank you” among familiar friends. Please welcome China rising. China will bring world peace and harmony.
Domestically, Xi is building a harmonic society. Internationally, Xi is building a Shared Future of Human Being. If you have doubt, ponder this question again.