New Series: Chinese Government 101

by Courtney Gould Miller
March 05, 2012

There are so many aspects of Chinese life that I love, but one of my favorites is conversations with cab drivers.  Not only is it the tried-and-true way to practice Mandarin, it’s also a view into the Chinese mindset.  Particularly when it comes to politics, Chinese cabbies don’t pull punches – and they usually know their stuff.  I’ve discussed former President Bush and President Obama, the state of the US economy, universal health care, US-China relations, all from the passenger’s seat of a cab.

{Various forms of Beijing Cabs, from Flickr available on Chinaful’s Pinterest

Whether I agree with their politics or not, I always walk away impressed and wondering:

Do US cab drivers know the basics about the Chinese political system? Do Americans of all walks of life and profession?

What about the role of the Chinese Communist Party?

Or the current Premier’s name?

I’m starting a new series on Chinaful to address these questions and more, “Chinese Government 101.” Whether business interests, Asian studies or just general cultural curiousity bring you to Chinaful, a basic understanding of the structure of the Chinese Government is key. You may know that China is a Communist country, but that’s an abstract theory – you need to know how a case is tried or laws enacted to understand even the media reports on China, much less have a deeper understanding of China and its people. And I won’t just be giving you fast facts, but also the insight into how the system functions in reality and their influence policy and impact daily life in China.

Here’s the index for posts to come, once I post on a topic in the series I’ll link back here.  I’ll also be adding to the index as I go.

Don’t see a topic you think should be covered? Leave a note in the comments, and I’ll try to incorporate it. (And don’t worry – this series will be mixed with Chinaful’s regular posts on business news, food, travel and culture as well, it won’t be just government and policy!)


As a New Yorker my guess US cab drivers do not :)

March 06, 2012 | Angela Gould

That is true. The cab drivers of China, not just Beijing, but maybe it is quite typical in Beijing, just love talking. Sometimes they could keep talking for your whole journey. Sometimes I wonder, wow, how could they just be cab drivers? They almost know everything, and they have their own viewpoints towards lots of social issues, even international matters. Courtney, I am not surprise that you had talked with them about "former President Bush and President Obama, the state of the US economy, universal health care, US-China relations". Moreover, I also agree with you, it is definitely a fantastic opportunity to practice your Mandarin!

March 08, 2012 | Diana Cui (崔雪梅)
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