Scratching the Surface

The United States is known for being one of the greatest countries on planet Earth. However, there are some characteristics about America that they share with another country.  China is very similar in some areas that make America so great.  So, is China right there behind the United States?  Looking deeper into the governments, the geography, and the culture will help better answer this question.

The governments of these two countries are run differently, but have aspects that resemble each other.  The United States has three branches that help keep the country functioning: the legislative, executive, and judicial.  Each branch is comprised of people appointed by the people of the country.   Each branch has its own responsibilities, but the other branches have powers that keep the other branches in check.  China is governed primarily by the Communist Party.  This party changes the country’s constitution as it sees fit.  Both countries are headed by a president who is a part of the executive branch.  They both also have constitutions that can be changed.  The United States created their Constitution in 1787, ten years after declaring their independence from Great Britain.  Under Great Britain, they were run by a monarchy.  Once the United States broke away from Great Britain and became a democratic republican nation, the citizens gained more freedoms, as well as more say in the government.  China only became a Communist nation after Moa Zedong declared it one in 1949.  Throughout the years, China has slowly lost its freedoms and say in the government and has become more corrupt.

When I used to think about the geography of China, I always just pictured a very flat country with not a lot of mountain ranges and not a lot of deserts. For the United States, I was able to picture very clearly all the different types of geography because I live here.  When I looked up the geography of China, I found that they also have large mountain ranges.  In fact, “[i]n the west of China there are the Himalayas, with some of the highest mountains in the world” (“Geography”).  I had no idea that these were located within the borders of China.  China also contains the Turfan Depression which is comparable to Death Valley in the United States.  Both are the lowest points in the countries, thus being the hottest.  Both of the countries also contain tropical regions, with that coming in the form of rain forests in the southern part of China and in the form of Hawaii for the United States.  The one thing I definitely did not expect China to have was tundra areas. The northern part of China that is close to Russia becomes very cold in the winter.  Thus, both countries have very similar and diverse geographies.

While the geography of these two nations is very similar, the cultures tend to vary much more.  Beginning with language, the United States has no official language, but almost every language is spoken within the United States.  In China, however, “the official national language of China is Pŭtōnghuà, a type of Mandarin spoken in the capital Beijing” (Zimmermann).  Another big difference in the cultures is religion.  The United States is a very tolerant country; and similar to languages, many different religions are practiced within the United States.  In China, however, there are five official religions, and any other religion practiced is considered illegal.  The Chinese Constitution states that people are granted the right of freedom of religion, but the government has ignored this.  Christians, as well as other religions, are largely persecuted.  Many people are killed for their faiths and often time, meet in secret to avoid this.  Two things that tend to have some similarities are celebrations and holidays.  Both countries celebrate the New Year with large celebrations.  They also both celebrate birthdays of important people that helped shape the country into what they are today.  The people of these different countries will be raised differently because of the diversely different cultures.

Both of these countries are unique in their own ways.  They each have people or areas that help define them.  When you look beneath the surface, however, you find that they both have more in common than one would imagine.  Government, geography, and culture are all big areas that give the country character, but some other characteristics are similar to each other.



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