How close are China, Korea and Japan culturally, socially, and historically?

This is a complex topic, but I can generalize and simplify it best as, Korea and Japan took cultural cues from Ancient China but their culture eventually diverged as their countries became more developed and unique.

China was the most influential state in East Asia for most of its history. The biggest change to Chinese culture occurred after the fall of the Qing Dynasty – the establishment of the Republic of China in 1912 and after that the People’s Republic of China in 1949 eliminated or lessened a great deal of its ancient customs including the influence of Confucianism and Buddhism in everyday society. It also developed its own character set, Simplified Chinese. Modern day China today operates as a single party controlled capitalist state – the closest country that can be compared is modern day Russia – which is for all intents and purposes also a single party controlled capitalist state. It retains a semblance of its ancient culture but only minimally.

Ancient Japan (Yamato) took a great deal of its customs (including Confucianism and Buddhism) from Ancient China but especially Tang China / Song China – after the Mongol Yuan dynasty took hold and relationships with Japan deteriorated, Japan mostly isolated itself after the Tokugawa Shogunate took hold. Japan still uses traditional Chinese characters (Kanji) in addition to its own character sets today. Modern day Japan is more or less its own culture which remains quite distinct from modern day China.

Ancient Korea (Silla/Goryeo/Joseon) took a great deal of its customs (including Confucianism and Buddhism) from Ancient China but especially Ming China with which it had a great relationship – but after the Manchu Qing Dynasty took hold – relations deteriorated and Joseon mostly isolated itself as the ‘Hermit Kingdom’ and developed its own culture. Korea used to use traditional Chinese characters (Hanja) but its has almost all been replaced by Hangeul (the Korean alphabet) today. Korea was colonized by Japan in the early 1900s and a lot of Japanese culture – including the strict hierarchical society and ‘chaebol’ work culture – was adopted by Korea.Today’s Korea is a mix of Ancient Chinese culture and modern Japanese culture. North Korea remains more or less, a smaller version of Mao-era China.

As a bonus, I’ll thrown in Taiwan as well.

Taiwan was minimally populated in the Qing dynasty but became more developed after Japan took control of Taiwan in the late 1800s – after the PRC won the Civil War the KMT fled to Taiwan and took with it the remnants of Ancient Chinese culture/ROC culture with it, including the use of Traditional Chinese characters. Today’s Taiwan is a mix of ROC culture and Japanese culture.

Obviously this is all very high level but I think it provides a nice general overview.

Why is baseball popular in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan?

Baseball is very popular in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea but not other Asian countries. Why is that?

If I had to guess, it’s probably because during early 20th century when baseball was the most dominant sport in America, Japan got caught up in it – at this time Japan was militarily the most dominant country in Asia. They were influenced by global trends and baseball was a global trend at the time. To this day, Japan boasts the best professional league outside the MLB.

South Korea and Taiwan were colonies of Japan at that time and they too got caught up in the baseball trend. Remember, Koreans and Taiwanese were forced to speak Japanese during that time.

Baseball wasn’t popular in China because during that time China was very fragmented. The Qing Dynasty had collapsed just decades earlier and China under the ROC was fragmented among various regional warlords all vying for control, and Manchuria was under Japanese control at the time. Most Chinese were impoverished and illiterate at the time. Except for Shanghai which was considered the ‘Paris of the East’ at the time, the other parts of China wasn’t a good time for Chinese people (hence why Communism became popular) and they hardly had any leisure time to preoccupy themselves with baseball  (which required substantial equipment, team + setup to play, compared with basketball or other sports).

Basketball became popular in China because of Yao Ming; when he joined the NBA he brought along a billion fans with him. Taiwanese also watched Yao Ming as one of their own.

Basketball is not as popular in Japan and Korea because they didn’t have any star player in the NBA. On the other hand – Japan and Korea have professional players in the MLB – Ichiro Suzuki and Ryu Hyun-Jin respectively, whereas China has none – and that is another reason why baseball isn’t as popular in China.

What is wrong with a lot of Western media coverage of China?

First, let’s not make the sweeping generalization that American media is a proxy for Western media ok? The United States is a country that is considered by most Chinese to be a proxy for ALL Western countries, but its politics are actually quite different than the politics of Canada or Europe, and it tends to be a more right leaning conservative country that is run by corporations/military interests. Let’s get that out of the way, first ok? The question really should be rephrased to what is wrong with a lot of American media coverage of China?

American media titles often sensationalize – and this is not just talking about China but every topic in general – the media will often twist words around to make something seem more dramatic to get the viewers attention. Let’s not get the idea that American media is specifically out to get China – it’s out to get money. Money means you have to be sensationalist to get readers. PELOSI READY TO GET TRUMP IMPEACHED – might be a headline that you see amongst American media – even though that’s their own President!

China is not treated much differently than Russia, to America those are their geopolitical enemies so they have to report on the negatives there more than the positives – and it grabs headlines better.

Wow China is expanding its military presence in SE Asia!

Wow China has secret internment camps! how awful!

Look at that, China is taking over Hong Kong!

Wow look what happens to Chinese when they speak out! they disappear!

Look at that China is trying to take over the world with its trade plans!

See all these sensationalist videos? They’re meant to grab your attention about what China is doing and they are biased towards the negative. Are they totally fake? No, there are truths in the video, but they are presented in a very negatively biased way.

But in China, you would see the same negative videos about America as well, that they have a plan to take over the world, that they are infringing Chinese interests etc, since government knows that the narrative the media pushes is a way of controlling the people, that’s why they represent specific biases.

In China’s case, the state directly controls the media. In USA’s case, lobbyists and special interests control the media. Both have similar objectives which are to control the people into believing a certain narrative.

So back to the main question – is there anything wrong with American media coverage of China – and the answer is no, not really – the media is doing exactly its job. Which is to sway the people towards a certain narrative. There is no such thing as unbiased news. Every news outlet is biased towards some objective.

That said – this doesn’t mean that everyone is brainwashed by the media. Me for example, I rarely look at the media, I get most of my information from Wikipedia, a website that is one of the few thats accessible and editable by anyone in China or anywhere else.

A lot of Americans have shifted away from traditional cable and newspapers now and get their news from Facebook or Youtube. A lot of the most top voted pro-Chinese answers you’ll find on Quora for example, are actually written by Westerners.

People who have traveled more are generally more less likely to be ‘brainwashed’ as they have experienced the different countries and cultures firsthand themselves. This goes for both Americans and Chinese people, btw. Americans believe all Chinese things are poor quality or that they spy and kidnap their citizens – I’ve traveled to China so I know that’s not true. Chinese people believe all Koreans had plastic surgery or appropriate Chinese culture as theirs – again, I lived in Korea before so I know that it’s not true. Traveling is a good way to dispel ignorant notions.