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Publisher Description

When a squad of U.S. Navy snipers gunned down Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in his Pakistan hideout in May 2011, President Obama, along with some other top-brass senior staff, watched the shoot-out on live video in the White House. A highly-publicized photo later released by the White House showed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sitting at the head of the table with Obama half-stooping near the corner of the room (Drury, William, & Greenhill, 2011). Many internet discussants expressed their amazement in Chinese words at the photo showing the national leader on the sideline amid such a big event. They seemed to be shocked--as much as by the killing of Bin Laden--to see the leader of a major power in the world shown sitting on the backburner with his subordinate appearing as the central figure. Many asked how Obama could have been shown without "leader chi pie ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])," meaning the lack of a leader's dignity, magnificence, or splendor in this context." Why was there such a clamor among Chinese internet forum participants while, in the West, e.g., in the English-speaking community, there was hardly any noise regarding the President's seating? Although there are a number of alternative explanations or answers to this question, the concept of chi ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) in the East and the lack of it in the West might be a major, if not primary, reason. Observations and remarks in this introduction narrative well illustrate and reflect a mindset of members of the chi culture to expect leaders to display chi in behaviors and appearances. However, those remarks are simply scratching the surface of the chi concept. It requires enormous deliberation for Westerners to understand what exactly chi is, how chi is produced, how communication plays a role in chi creation, and how chi affects communication. For example, to employ chi theory of communication in an analysis of the issue of the "presidential seating" in the case of "Obama watching Osama," one may contend that the President has the position of superiority (yang), while the staff has subordination (yin). Normally, when the president and the staff sit together, the seating position at the head table is traditionally yang (superior), while other seats are yin (inferior). The yin and yang strike a contrast- a perception interplay, which generates chi (for the superior). When Obama was not in a conventional, prominent, seating place, the organizational position-seating mismatch might have created a cognitive dissonance in the minds of members of the chi culture.

Professional & Technical
October 1
Edmondson Intercultural Enterprises
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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