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East Meets West: An Infographic Portrait by Yang Liu

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The artist and visual designer Yang Liu was born in China and lives in Germany since she was 14. By growing up in two very different places with very different traditions she was able to experience the differences between the two cultures first-hand.

Drawing from her own experience Yang Liu created minimalistic visualizations using simple symbols and shapes to convey just how different the two cultures are. The blue side represents Germany (or western culture) and the red side China (or eastern culture):

Lifestyle: Independent vs. dependent Lifestyle: Independent vs. dependent

Attitude towards punctuality Attitude towards punctuality

At a party At a party

Ideal of beauty Ideal of beauty

Elderly in day to day life Elderly in day to day life

The boss The boss

Noise level inside a restaurant Noise level inside a restaurant

Problem-solving approach Problem-solving approach

Size of the individual's ego Size of the individual’s ego

Perception: How Germans and the Chinese see one another Perception: How Germans and the Chinese see one another

How to stand in line How to stand in line

Complexity of self-expression Complexity of self-expression

Traveling and recording memories Traveling and recording memories

Connections and contacts Connections and contacts

Three meals a day Three meals a day

Animals Animals

Anger Anger

Moods and weather Moods and weather

Read an interview with Liu about the project here.

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263 Comments »

  • peter says:

    i am a chinese.i agree with what is said in the infographics in some ways but not absolutely. the people you have ever met can’t necessary represent all the chinese.after all, too many chinese in the world.

  • rick says:

    Some of these are accurate, but some are not. This book stereotypes and generalizes cultures. It is cleverly designed as infographics but the message can be misleading.

  • Aobaris says:

    This works released by Yang Liu in 2007 and second series already published, most of the images here not very up to date and personal opinion you can not so much generalise all these, for example Japanese are Asian or Singaporeans Asian too but they know how to be in line while waiting bus or Chinese not punctual but Japanese one of the most punctual… Same goes southern europe Italians, are fit with more east if you if you compare Germans

  • John says:

    What about a diagram of Western person not going to the toilet or spitting in the street, and one of Eastern person going to the toilet and spitting in the street?

    What about a picture of Western culture looking after a sick stranger and Eastern culture leaving someone to die on the street?

    What about a picture of German city with clean streets and clear sky and Eastern city dirty and grey polluted skies?

    What about picture of German traffic (ordered, fast) versus Eastern traffic (chaotic, slow)?

    • rick says:

      What about nazi killing jews and east saving jews.

      What about western corporations outsourcing jobs so they can get filthy rich, and then make their government tax the poor?

      What about rich western people walking past homeless people and tell them to get a job?

      What about the majority of car accidents and deaths occur in the west?

      What about more crimes like murder and rape occur mostly in western countries?

      What about Western culture look after a sick stranger and then charge a fortune?

      What about processed food in the west that are giving everyone cancer and heart diseases?

      What about Western people trashing public toilets wherever they go?

      What about Western people abusing minorities?

      What about racism in the West?

      What about the West starting wars with every country and pretend that they are spreading democracy?

      What about the West colonizing third world countries?

      What about the West killing civilians in the middle east?

  • Flora says:

    I am so shocked that Yang Liu can use so simple symbols to express the differences in two totally different cultures so deeply.Since I do my part-time jobs with young people,I joined in Canadian young people`parties two or three times. Like Yang Liu`s third picture which shows difference in party culture,The second party I went let me truly experienced that difference.There were lots of people in one house, and we did not know each other. I only know three or four people. But in China, there are only friends who are familiar with each other can be in one party, otherwise you are not allowed to join in.So I was so surprised that two culture can be so different.I think maybe the reason is that western culture is more open.

  • fanaj says:

    I feel sorry to to post this serious comment about these “funny” pictures, but these comparisons appear to me a little bit tendentious, because they implicitely judge in a negative way the eastern features of culture and behavior, and this according to the western values : only in 4 cases on 18, the comparisons seem to be in favor of eastern culture (the size of the ego, elderly in day to day Life, moods andweather, and maybe the reaction to anger ) !..
    This may not serve the aims of intercultural comprehension, but more likely serves a kind of contempt based on negative stereotypes.

    • Jim B says:

      Fanaj, I’m afraid you missed the point of these comparisons. These are very much observations on Chinese society and values in simple contrast to German mores by a person who is completely qualified to make them. Many, if not all, fit my own experiences, at least on the level of gross stereotypes (which, of course, they are). Read them again with some humor in mind and see if you could learn from them as well.

    • Rob says:

      You’re viewing those qualities as negative through your own cultural lens though. I think that was the whole point. Have you even lived in China?

    • domge says:

      I think that whether or not it negatively judges eastern features more harshly or less harshly than western values is probably based on your own experiences and presuppositions. Some of the comics can be perceived as being a criticism of a culture, but are just accurate reflections that are amoral, but cultures sometimes perceive as being better or right. For instance, the strip about punctuality is very accurate. Asian cultures (though in this instance I think its most of the world outside of America) typically have a looser relationship with time than most western cultures (particularly Germany). One way is not necessarily better or worse than another, but nevertheless it is a generally true difference between the cultures. Whether you perceive one as being a negative indictment on the other probably depends on your own culture and what you believe is better. Obviously, these are just stereotypes and not representative of all Germans or all Asians and they are represented in these comics in the extreme. Cultures are diverse and the people within them are diverse, but in general I believe that this is more or less a fairly accurate portrayal of the different worldviews and cultures of Germany (representing the Western world) and Asia (probably mostly representing a particular culture/nation in Asia). These differences being neither necessarily good nor necessarily bad. I am an American born and raised in Papua New Guinea just to give you an idea of my background.

    • Ang says:

      I don’t think they are all negative towards Chinese values. I don’t know about you, but calling them “eastern” features is kind of more weird of you? I know you’re trying to be culturally conscious, so maybe you should consider this first: Asian communities differ to each other you know. A bit ironic that you said that.

      How is “independence” always have to be a positive thing? Maybe you are thinking German values are way more positive. So isn’t it a bit ironic that you don’t think this serves an intercultural comprehension? Perhaps you need to open up and stop thinking all things “eastern” is negative. Think about it; I think he shows this the way it is. Especially with the elderly one and the party one.

      I am korean. living in the netherlands.

  • Martin says:

    Very good illustration and concept, but I will say it’s “Chinese meets West” not “East meets west”. Thorough the experience from the Asian cities I’ve stayed and the people I met, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, even HongKongese etc are far more different than these descriptions.

    • Jaq says:

      Really? In my experience, this is exactly what Korea is like. Restaurants are loud, people don’t stand in line, boss is THE Boss, etc.

  • Sara says:

    Most of them are true. I’m Asian and in my country, we do line up and we don’t talk loudly

  • Jennifer Goheen says:

    This is delightful! I have lived in Germany and in China, so that makes it especially fun. Many of the illustrations work generally for East–West, but the Punctuality one definitely fits Germany better than Ireland.

  • jianuo zhang says:

    The pictures examplify how different Eastern and Western people think and how different their lifestyles are. In the eyes of Western people, Chinese people like being accompanied by others and assume they will be pitied by others if they are alone while Western people prefer to be independent. Also, Western people are deemed more puncutal than Eastern people. All in all, I think their environments and cultures cause their differences in behavior.

  • Patricia says:

    Yan liu, with her art is showing us the way different cultures perceive another person from another culture. In her work she shows the differences and sterotypes in immigrants.
    Through her work, as an immigrant I can feel the lack of community; she is trying to show specially in her paiting the differences in the german and chinese culture. It reminds me of my oold days as a new immigrant in Canada where the difference was not only the language but, the loneliness and out of place feeling.

  • Patricia Cordon. says:

    the artist is taking us to a place where most all immigrants are at one point in our life’s.I can see the way some people or cultures stereotype immigrants because the way we dress look or what we eat. How different culture focus more in a family life , showing in her art, how some cultures in these case Germans, are more strict in the way they live,like being punctual.

    In some other areas of her work, related to our experience’s as immigrants we can see the way they relate in a social environment as party or gathers we can see Germans are more individualist ans a little close in the community circle.

    in summary Yang Liu works reminded me my firsts years in Canada.

  • Zhenjun Zhu says:

    In eastern culture, people have more intense relationships with others. Unlike western, people will do their things by their own, eastern people will mutually help each other even the people can deal it by self. The most part I like in the western culture is the boss’s position is not much higher than employees. Everyone wants to get an equal treatment in the world, but not many place can really do it.

  • thomas says:

    what do the birds on the tree’s mean? did not understand!

  • Hannah says:

    A person is much more than a culture, at the same time a culture says a lot about a persons worldview. Personally if you do not understand this very basic concept than perhaps intermarrying is not for you.

  • Hannah says:

    It always amazes me why western men marry foreign women. They expect them to act and be how westerners perceive them. You marry a person within that culture additionally culture is important to us. Why are trying to make ur wife assimilate to your culture!

    • Dawei says:

      I find it interesting you say why a foreign man marries the woman! Isn’t the woman choosing to marry the man? One needs to ask why she chooses to marry him? Could there possibly be something to gain?!

    • American says:

      You really have no idea about anyone’s expectations but your own. I’m a white, western man married to an Eastern Asian woman. Do I disagree with some aspects of Asian culture? Well, yes, of course I do. As does she with some aspects of western culture. Do either of us try to force the other to change? No. Why not? First, because I respect her (that’s why I married her), and second, because what ever cultural difference there is between us is insignificant. People across cultures, sexes, races, religions, and any other category you’d like to put them in are not really that different. We are vastly more similar than we are different. I live in her country and speak her language. I am fully integrated into her family and she in mine. We are comfortable in each other’s culture. I’d say this applies for the vast majority of international/interracial couples. Please think about what you say before posting blatantly discriminatory and narrow-minded assertions.

  • gary says:

    very direct and to the point, I very much like it. Well done

  • Wolfgang Boegel says:

    East meets West is now in perfect order thanks to her I understand now my Chines wife

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