Socio-cultural characteristics of the Uyghurs and potential opportunities for mutual understanding

There is a way to focus on the differences between the Han and the Uyghurs, but it is more helpful to look at the problem in terms of searching for potential bridges to converge.


Many neurolinguists are of the opinion that language is a means of thinking.

For example, the Chinese cultural linguistics sees its task in the study of the links between the Chinese language and Chinese culture in the framework of realizing the "historical" mission of the Celestial Empire.

Culture is sought in "Key words", in idioms, in stable expressions. For example, the “key words” of Russian culture include the nouns Тоска (sort of Spleen), Судьба (sort of Destiny) and Душа (Russian Soul); the Japanese have the concepts of Honne and Tate Mae (inner world and outer manifestations); the Chinese have "Guangxi", a brotherly principle, we will come back to this later.

These key intercultural concepts shape the mindset of a child.

Important point here: most of the residents of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region do not speak Chinese.

The New Uyghur language belongs to the Altai family, a Turkic branch; the Uyghurs use the Latin or Arabic alphabet, and the Han Chinese use the Chinese characters. Even if we agree with all critics of cultural linguistics at once, the very way of studying these two languages ​​develops different brain functions, different character traits.

Plus the factor of entropy (or noise) significantly affects the communication process of people speaking even the same language, due to at least cognitive distortions. What to say when people speak different languages?

That is why the Chinese government puts so much effort into teaching the Chinese language, but the process is not easy. It is clear that people who have adopted the Chinese language with its method of study, concepts and idioms, would already think in a way that is much closer to the Chinese.


The linguistic picture of the Han world is identified with heightened imagery, musicality and emotionality, the idea of ​​freedom of thought, intuition. This is reflected in their communication style. He, as a form of a good symphony, does not let you get bored.

In negotiations, Han people are patient and polite, but more extroverted than the Japanese, for example, and less extroverted than the Uyghurs. They can speak from a position of strength, but they will try to save the face of all participants in the process.

The Chinese (Han) negotiator needs to get to know the partner during the preamble in order to adapt the proposal on the fly.

Meeting with an obstacle, they can delay the process, try different tactics, including harsh rhetoric, if the obstacle continues, the tactics may change. Han probes the partner.

The communication style of the Uyghurs is radically different and stems from its main roots: the Islamic religion, which is the source of its diversity; the influence of the Turkic languages ​​provides declamatory insertions as well as a tenacious stance in trying to open and maintain communication channels; Chinese roots guarantees a certain patience and Asian orientations for dialogue, as well as passive periods for reflection to adjust your position to the interlocutor. There can be a kind of roller coaster with explosive periods alternating with Asian calmness.

They are incredibly in control of themselves and, sensitive to the conjuncture, they feel the political climate, they can perceive and obey reason.

An exchange that leads to progress is considered constructive, so they keep the door open, as they say, for further discussions, trading, if you like.

The word trading is not accidental. Although the Uighurs are a people closed to "strangers", especially for the Han people, they know a lot about trade and are ready to communicate with "outsiders" for the sake of profit. Historically, the “Silk Road” ran through their territory. And this is, in fact, the commercial class, which for the sake of profit is most likely ready to adapt to any prohibitions.


Uyghurs will listen carefully for the benefit, but they would also like to speed up the process to discover more details. Speakers should avoid ambiguity, which the Chinese are very fond of and this is an important difference.

Despite the fact that they do not like criticism and officialdom, they like direct proposals. If criticism is present, it should never be direct and always soft, because otherwise we will be faced with self-defense - usually at a high level of stress. It should also be mentioned that they listen with a certain level of skepticism.

Quite impatient, they like energetic speakers.

Another thing is Han, where the ability to listen = good manners. The manner of the speaker is more important than the content of the message itself. Here the Han people need to remember that this does not work with the Uighurs.

The Han has a great desire for harmony of the parties, so they can delay and postpone the answer. Here the desire to save the face of all the participants in the process, which is more pronounced among the Han people than among the inhabitants of Xinjiang, also plays a role.


In intercultural communication, there is the concept of layers of culture. But there is an important remark here. When it comes to Islam, identification is carried out primarily not according to the national, but according to the religious principle.

Self-determination generates values, therefore, in search of ways of rapprochement, it is easier and more understandable to operate not with the concepts of statehood, nationality, braces, gender, class, but with the values ​​of the religious component.

In the case of Xinjiang Uyghur, it is important to work closely with the patriarchs to find a balance in the coexistence of different peoples.


To summarize the above, from the point of view of intercultural communication, it would be useful to consider the following steps:

• Compulsory study of the Chinese language;

• Take into account the communicative characteristics of both parties, such as the specifics of negotiation and auditory patterns;

• Consider the factor of self-determination in the process of appealing to correctly defined values.

Yours faithfully,

Anastasia Shevchenko







Intercultural training


The operational standard

An anti-crisis solution


Who are we

Names and titles

Polite formulas

Our privacy policy



© 2016 by La Classe

Any reproduction or representation of the site in part or in whole (texts, graphics, designs, logos and photos) is prohibited without the written consent of La Classe and would constitute an infringement punishable by articles L. 335-2 and following of the Code. of Intellectual Property.


Winter Palace

98000 Monaco

Call us: +33 (0) 6 21 49 96 74

Write us:

As a training organization approved by the FEDEM for reception techniques, Monegasque companies can benefit from a Government retrocession of 30% on the total amount excluding VAT.

Contact us and we will send you all the necessary documents.