Voting – East and West
For Chinese, voting comes after decisions have already been made, and is an affirmation of support. It’s one of the most visible means by which a group shows encouragement to its leaders. That’s why when Chinese vote, everyone is expected to vote positively. If not, it is seen as a serious sign of dissention and even disloyalty. If people disagree, they are expected to abstain.
However for Westerners, voting is part of the process of decision making. This is how people decide whether to go this way, or that. This allows the group as a whole to choose. It’s quite common in Western groups for there to be disagreement in a group, and for this to show itself during a vote.
On paper, a Chinese group may be constitutionally similar to a Western group (including the mechanism of voting). However the Confucian-influenced culture means that the real source of authority is different. In the Chinese group it is the leaders who really make the decisions – while for Westerners it is the group.
You can also pick up the heavy emphasis on harmony in the Eastern approach, in contrast to the Western embrace of conflict. Which is a problem if this is meant to be the place where different ideas are considered and decisions made!
And behind this all you can also see the much more positive view of leaders generated by Neo-Confucianism, which expects that leaders will do what is right (see previous post). In contrast the Western approach (informed in large part by biblical Christianity) has a much more pessimistic view of leaders. Western culture expects that leaders may do what is wrong – and as a result builds checks and balances against the power of leaders.
[ PS: how have you seen this work itself out in a Chinese church? ]