11 Things China and Vietnam Have In Common

Chinese building Forbidden City

I have lived in both China and Vietnam. I have studied Chinese and Vietnamese languages and culture; it is surprising how many things in common China and Vietnam have.

China and Vietnam are both Asian countries; they have many similarities in their culture, traditions, and language. Both are patriarchal societies that believe in ancestor worship. Many of their shared traditions include many traditional holiday celebrations. Their government systems are similar.

Here are some of my top picks of the 11 things China and Vietnam have in common. Most of these similarities are from my own observation and experience of living for many years in China and Vietnam.

11 Things China and Vietnam Have In Common

1. – China and Vietnam Are Partriarchial Societies

Both Vietnam and China are considered patriarchal societies. This is because the man or patriarch of a family has had a major role and authority. A patriarchal society is defined as:

“Patriarchy, the hypothetical social system in which the father or a male elder has absolute authority over the family group; by extension, one or more men (as in a council) exert absolute authority over the community as a whole.”

Britannica

As both Vietnam and China have become more modern societies, men do not always have the absolute power they once had. But it is still common for a family to favor a male child versus a female child. Or to give their son everything, including all the education and opportunities, while not giving their daughter very much.

The socialist or communist government in Vietnam and China has helped change this absolute patriarchial society; many women have held powerful government positions. Many women have also been able to take leadership roles at work, in society, and at home

2. – Chinese and Vietnamese Have Language Similarities

Chinese and Vietnamese are not the same languages, but the two languages do have some similarities. Here are some of their top similarities:

  • Tonal Language – Both Chinese and Vietnamese are tonal languages; this means that the word and tone will give the word the meaning. Mandarin Chinese has 4 tones, and Vietnamese has 5 tones.
  • Similar Sounds – Chinese and Vietnamese can have some similar sounding words. Some of the words may sound the same and even share a common meaning.
  • Similar Grammer Structure – The grammar structure of Vietnamese and Chinese is also similar.

Even though the languages have similarities, a Chinese person cannot understand Vietnamese. Vietnamese people cannot automatically understand Chinese  Chinese, and Vietnamese are very different spoken and written languages.

2. – Chinese and Vietnamese Share Traditional Holidays

Both China and Vietnam share some of the same traditional holidays. In Vietnam, the Lunar New Year holiday is called Tet; in China, the same holiday is called the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year. You can discover more about the Lunar New Year Holiday; you can read Is the Chinese New Year and the Lunar New Year the Same? by clicking here.

Two other major holidays both countries share are the Ching Ming (Qing Ming) festival in April and the Mid Autumn Festival in the fall. Both of these are festivals are celebrated in China and Vietnam. You can find out more about the Ching Ming festival by reading Where Is The Ching Ming (Qing Ming) Festival Celebrated? All About by clicking here.

Dragon Dance in Vietnam
Example of a Dragon Dance in Vietnam

4. China and Vietnam Have Lion or Dragon Dances

Both China and Vietnam have what is called a lion or a dragon dance. However, the dances may use different names that are about the same dance. For some traditional festivals, you may find people out on the streets performing these traditional dances. The drumbeat, music, and how the dances are performed are very similar between Vietnam and China.

5 – Chinese and Vietnamese Both Worship Ancestors

Both China and Vietnam worship their ancestors. It may be common to go into someone’s house and find an altar with a picture of a relative that has passed on. This is because both countries worship their ancestors.

Ancestors or your family is significant in both cultures. Most Vietnamese and Chinese have an understanding of where their families have come from. Many of them know and understand where their hometown is or where most of their ancestors grew up or lived.

6. – Chinese and Vietnamese Have Family Genealogy Books

Both China and Vietnam have or had family genealogy books that have a record of their family. Keeping the family genealogy books was something that has been taught and practices in both places for centuries.

As a traditionally patriarchal society, many of these books only list the male child born in a family. The family books have no records of any female children or females spouses.

In China, during the Mao Tse Tung lead Cultural Revolution, many of these old family books were destroyed because the Chinese Communist Party considered them one of the four olds that needed to be taken out of society. During this time, many families lost their family books and records.

Vietnam did not have a cultural revolution, so many of these family books have been kept intact within Vietnam and the family or clans. Some of these books go back 22 generations or longer. To find out more about Vietnamese Genealogy, you can read Vietnamese Genealogy – Searching For Your Vietnamese Family Tree by clicking here.

One of the oldest family books in China is the Confucius family. Confucious was born in 551 BCE, so this family book goes back thousands of years.

Chinese food
Example of some Stir Fry Chinese food

7. – Common Aspect Of Chinese and Vietnamese Cuisine

There are some common aspects in both Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. The Chinese like to stir fry or do what is also called a quick fry with their meats and vegetables; many Vietnamese dishes will also use the same quick fry or stir-fry method, especially for many northern Vietnamese dishes.

Some Northern Vietnamese dishes also use soy sauce, as does Chinese cuisine. But unlike Chinese food, Vietnamese eat fresh vegetables, whereas the Chinese usually prefer their vegetables to be cooked.

To find out more about stir-fry cooking you can read What is the Asian Stir-fry Cooking Method? by clicking here.

8. – Both China and Vietnam Are Socialist/Communist Countries

Both China and Vietnam are Socialist or Communist countries that adhere to the principles of Stalin and Karl Marx. Both turned to Russia or the Soviet Union politically and not the west or the United States. If you want to learn more about Marxism, you can read What is Marxism? The Marxist Thought Explained In Simple Terms by clicking here.

Both countries, for a period of time, were closed to foreigners from western countries. Eventually, both China and Vietnam did open up to foreigners and for foreign investment. Both countries now export to the west, including to the United States.

Ho Chi MInh Mausoleum
The Ho Chi MInh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam

9 – Both Have Mausoleums For Their Former Leaders

Both Vietnam and China have a mausoleum for their former leaders. The outside of both mausoleums look quite similar; the mausoleum buildings both have a Russian style to them.

Mao Tse Tung, China’s leader, is interred and preserved in a mausoleum at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese leader, is interred and preserved at a mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam.

10 – China and Vietnam Are Buddhist Countries

Both China and Vietnam are mainly Buddhist countries. When you travel throughout Vietnam, especially in North Vietnam, many Buddhist temples look and feel like temples you may see in China.

China controlled a large part of Vietnam for over 1000 years. Many aspects of the Chinese culture were rooted in the Vietnamese culture. To learn more about Vietnam’s history, you can read A Brief History of Vietnam, What You Should Know Before You Go by clicking here.

11. – China and Vietnam Are Both In Asia

China and Vietnam are both considered Asian countries. Technically, Vietnam is part of Southeast Asia, and China is part of Asia. But they are both considered to be Asian countries.

This is because if you look at a map, you will see that north Vietnam borders China. If you go to some of the northern border areas of Vietnam, you may find Vietnamese people living on or near the border speaking fluent Chinese.

Even though China and Vietnam are separate countries, and many times or even at odds with each other, they do have quite a bit in common. Both China and Vietnam share a long history and culture.

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Anita L Hummel

Hi, I live in Hanoi, Vietnam but spend time traveling the region. I love to share with you things I see and learn through my travels.

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11 Things China and Vietnam Have In Common