Culture Shock! China - A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette, 2nd Edition

(Kiana) #1

78 CultureShock! China

a maternity apron to protect the child from any harmful
radiation that may emit from computers of other business
machines. That apron will become her work uniform all the
way through her pregnancy.
The Chinese government allows 90 days of maternity
leave for a mother after the birth of a child, and three days
of paternity leave for men. If the woman has had a difficult
birth or is older than 23 years, she is allowed extra days. Many
women are encouraged to schedule a cesarean birth, rather
than deliver the child naturally. Because of the population
size of major cities, maternity wards use scheduled births
as a way to create some predictability in the doctor’s work
schedule. Because of this, many Chinese women know in
advance when they will give birth and can be clear about
their work schedule.

The ‘Seated Month’
Traditionally, Chinese women rest and eat healing foods immediately
after a baby is born. This time is called zuoyuezi, which literally means
the ‘seated month’. For the purists, this time allows no bathing, no
exposure to fresh air, and no movement or effort. Families gather
around and care for mother and child. A baby will not normally be
allowed to leave the house during the first three to six months. It is
fine to visit the new mother or child at home during this time. Bring
a small gift for the child and a token of congratulations for the new
parents when you first meet the new baby.

Retirement—The Golden Years

To better manage the profitability of state-run companies,
China lowered its retirement ages. A man is meant to retire
when he is 60 years old (55 if in a blue-collar position),
a woman when she is 55 years old (50 if in a blue-collar
position). Retirement is funded by pensions and personal
savings; China does not yet have a cohesive social
security system.
Some people who are viewed as indispensable in their
skills are not forced to retire—usually these people are leaders
in their specialised field and can work well into their 80s.
While they continue working, they are not subject to the same
demands of others, and quite often are treated deferentially.
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