Thoughts about Punctuality

Punctuality is a crucially important norm in Chinese culture which is considered as a common courtesy.  On the other hand, the Australians have adapted into a more casual and easygoing lifestyle and because of this, punctuality is not as great as priority as it is in China. Therefore, in general Chinese people are more punctual than Australians.

Both Australians and Chinese share the similar standard of punctuality in regards to social gathering and family activities.  Although, the standard is similar, there are still differences in the degree of punctuality.  For example, in Australia, there is no particular social standard that indicates when to show up for a dinner party other than not to be late; however, in China, people normally arrive 10 minutes prior as a common courtesy.

In a business context, such as business meeting, doctor’s appointments and house inspections, Australians are considered more punctual than the Chinese.  Take dentist’s appointment as an example, due to the limited resources in medical industries, people who missed his/her appointment will be rescheduled in accordance to availability which is quite common to be weeks apart. In China, however, hospitals and clinics do not take bookings, hence, people are not used to make appointments, they tend to show up whenever they like.

However, in traditional Chinese culture being punctual is of great importance, one of the best examples can be shown as in education.  This is because in China, being punctual is also a way of paying respects to people who you plan to see, therefore, people may feel offended and think you do not respect them enough if you do not show up on time and teachers are highly respected in culture.  For instance, being late for classes is not acceptable in China whereas it is quite common in Australia, especially in tertiary education.  Another example can be given as attending school assembly as who ever is late for the assembly would not to be allowed to join the crowd in China, but in Australia there is no strict punishment applied.


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