View Into China 2015

‘A View Into China’


"China needs to learn more about the world, and the world also needs to know more about China."

- Xi Jinping 15 November 2012 Central Politburo of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China

About this series of discussion salons, training courses and video shorts:

The power dynamics around the world have shifted greatly with the reemergence of China in the 1980s. Yet China’s economic rise in this century has not been accompanied by a rise in its capability to communicate effectively with people abroad. So it's understandable that people question whether China has benevolent or malevolent intentions. Fostering mutual understanding, and avoiding misunderstandings, is key to increasing international collaboration and reducing potential conflict with China. It is key to peace in a changing world.

China's long and convulsive political history shapes how China's modern government makes decisions and implements change. Understanding this context is key to understanding the intentions of China's government. Understanding how China's society is affected by both ancient philosophical traditions and the Cultural Revolution is key to understanding the moral compass and protocol of Chinese society. Watching Chinese people’s first tentative steps abroad and the swiftness in which they adapt to new behaviors will give you an idea of how Chinese culture will affect the future of the world. Understanding China is not easy. The last couple decades of unprecedented urbanization and rapid westernization in China is causing society to evolve at a pace even Chinese residents have a hard time grasping.

A ‘View into China’ consists of a series of intimate discussion salons, in-depth training courses, and video shorts to provide high-level influencers abroad with a better understanding of how to work with China. This is meant to provide an unprecedented, transparent look into how China works and why it works that way, as well as provide a learning opportunity for China’s leadership to improve its communication with the West. It is meant to open up constructive two-way dialogue, rather than be one-way propaganda. A ‘View into China’ is a unique effort between an international non-profit organization dedicated to cross-border collaboration, Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE), and a leading Chinese government entity, China Academy of Governance (CAG), with expertise across all Chinese leadership subjects. Lecturers come from China's top trainers at China Academy of Governance and JUCCCE's network of international China experts. A series of short videos to be created will serve to illustrate these topics. Experts will use personal anecdotes to show how cultural misunderstandings can easily arise and block collaboration.

About the Co-Organizers

China Academy of Governance (CAG 国家行政学院) - CAG is the leading government leadership academy under the Chinese government. It is a policy think tank for the State Council. The presidency of the Chinese Academy of Governance is concurrently held by Yang Jing, state councillor and secretary-general of the State Council, and the secretary of the Party committee Chen Baosheng. Your host on campus is Dong Qing, the Director of the Department of International Affairs. She formerly worked at MOFCOM in international trade.

Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE, pronounced 'juice') - JUCCCE creates a livable China within the limits of planetary health. We bring together worldwide expertise to help China's decision makers catalyze societal-scale change in clean and efficient energy use, sustainable urbanization, and food consumption. JUCCCE is one of the leading non-profit environmental organizations working on the ground in China. JUCCCE provides training at CAG and other Chinese  government leadership academies on sustainable urbanization. Your host from JUCCCE is Chairperson Peggy Liu, who was born and raised in America but now resides in Shanghai.


Please click on a topic from the topic list below to see more details.

1.  Chinese Culture

2.  The Party and the Government

3.  Law-Based Governance and Policy Implementation

4.  National 5-Year Plan

5.  Financial Markets

6.  Sovereignty

7.  International Affairs

8.  Outbound Investment

9.  Educational System

10. Innovation

11. Urbanization

12. Environment

13. Healthcare in China

14. Sports

15. Military


1. Chinese Culture

1.1. Gigascale changes in each generation from the 1960s.

How do the last several generations of Chinese see themselves, their relationships and their place in the world? What are the different historical drivers, characteristics and priorities of each? What was the impact of the Cultural Revolution on society? What is the societal effect of the conditional One-Child Policy on different generations, and how have the regulations loosened over time? What are some typical personal stories showcasing these changes? (Watch: the most popular Chinese movie in 2015, and in 1990.)  What is the Chinese citizen’s attitude towards this gigascale change in their own lives? (Discuss: What are ways China can help build an inclusive society when people have such varying values, lifestyles, foundation of knowledge?)

1.2 What does prosperity look like?

What do Chinese people think the end goal looks like with continued economic growth and lifestyle changes? (Watch: videos of people-on-the-street commentary) What does the government think? (Discuss Xi Jinping quote: “Every kid is in school, every one has work to do, every one has a roof over the head, every sick is treated, and the elderly taken cared of. 学有所教、劳有所得、病有所医、老有所养、住有所居”) How can this pursuit of the “China Dream” be sustainable for the planet? (Discuss: Are the image of prosperity for citizens and its governments aligned in various regions?) Who are some of China’s role models and what are their stories?

1.3 Philosophy, Religion, versus Spirituality

What do these terms mean for Chinese? What are the key philosophical teachings that Chinese kids learn? (Watch: video of Chinese kid reciting Confucius analects.) What is the view on “fate” and “balance”? Do Chinese believe in reincarnation? How do these views affect modern society in social and business situations? (View and explain: some Chinese idioms that relate to how Chinese relate to people?)  Is development of religion in China allowed, encouraged, needed? Did the government ban religion? If so, are Chinese atheists? How tolerant are Chinese of other culture’s beliefs? (Discuss: How do the differing Chinese Western views of religion result in different types of foreign policy?)

1.4 Values

What values are espoused in China that may be different from other cultures? What are examples of loyalty, filial piety? Do Chinese believe it important to export these values to the West? What Western values does China not want to copy? (Show: graphic series showing differences between East and West) (Discuss: what values are in common between Chinese and Westerners?)

1.5 Societal relationships

How is the priorities on society and family survival versus individual different from The West, and is it changing? Confucius’ 5 principal relationships 无论关系 does not include guidance on how to treat strangers. How does this affect foreign policy, environmental protection, shared spaces? What are the “responsibilities” and “obligations” of citizens? Are women still “half the sky” or are there gender equality issues? How does this “in-group” and “out-group” societal structure affect trust in business and foreign policy?

1.6 What does diversity mean in China?

By individuals in a soup or regionally as a mosaic?  What are examples of cultural differences within China? In food, in language, in fashion, in etiquette, in religion. (Activity: Taste test of different Chinese cuisines.) By region, by ethnicity, by age.  (Activity: use Yuezi postpartum rituals as example of regional cultural differences) Sea turtles versus Land turtles.  How are regional cultures preserved? How are minorities able to keep their heritage, especially as intermarriage becomes more common? How are they encouraged to be more Han? How is conflict resolved?  How is diversity encouraged for innovation, or discouraged in early education? (Discuss: how is diversity encouraged in other regions?)

1.7 Etiquette

Protocol is extremely important in Chinese culture to create order, show respect, and show sophistication. What is Chinese protocol in business, dining, and social environments? How is Chinese protocol opposite of American culture? How do differences create confusion? (Activity: act out a typical meeting scene, a typical business dinner scene, a typical conference mingle scene.) (Activity: Group foot massage)

1.8 Chinese Language

How do differences in Chinese language compared to Western languages reflect the differences in culture and thinking of a Chinese person? How does the visual structure of Chinese language change a child’s brain development? Is there a large human cost to efficiency in the rote learning of twenty thousand characters? How is digital technology for character input and social media changing Chinese communication style? (Activity: learn the evolution of a few basic characters)

1.9 Internet and Media

Is there separation between editorial, publishing and government, as in the West? Why are certain sites blocked in China? Why is there censorship on media? What terms are sensitive? How does the Great Firewall work? Who is in charge? (Discuss: why and how is there separation of editorial and publication in press in other countries?) Why does China emphasize positive “warm (热)” press to form societal norms?

1.10 Evolution of cultural industry?

What of art and cultural hubs? Fashion innovation?

1.11 What are the cultural ambassadors of China?

The US has CNN, England has BBC, the Middle East has Al Jazeera. Korea has Kpop. What are the vehicles of China’s voice to the world outside? How is China expanding its media influence abroad? What is happening in the rising film industry, including the Sino-US movie industry?

1.12 What are the attitudes towards neighborly charity, organized charity and receiving charity in China?

What does philanthropy look like in China? How has this changed since the Sichuan Earthquake? What does volunteerism look like in China? Why did Bill Gates’ efforts to get Chinese billionaires to commit to philanthropy fail? (Discuss idiom: “to cast one’s bread upon the waters为善不欲人知”).  How are NGOs different in China than in the U.S.? How will the new regulation on international NGOs change the way they work in China? Describe the process of becoming an NGO in various categories. What are some of the more impactful NGOs in China?  What are China’s aid efforts abroad?  Are China NGOs part of China’s foreign policy?

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2. The Party and The Government

2.1 What are the key differences between the Chinese Communist Party and the Government?

What are their separate responsibilities to its people? Which matters are decided by the Party and which by the government? What are the different regulations that they abide by? What is left to the private sector to contribute? Is China actively recruiting other nations to emulate its government structure?

2.2 Brief History & Evolution of the Chinese Communist Party

How is China’s Communism different than Russian or German communism? Comparison of Chinese and Western Political System. The Party is undergoing convulsive changes— what direction is it headed? How does the Party ensure the continued relevance, survival and success of the Party?

2.3 Leadership Structure

Compare the Party to a multinational corporation. Is China more like a country or a continent? Does the Chinese government act with one mind?  What is the power hierarchy, centrally and locally? How much control does the central government have over the local government have? What decisions are decided at the central level versus at the local level? What level of autonomy does local government have?

2.4 How is Chinese government a meritocracy?

What are the current weaknesses of the system? What are the key performance indicators (growth, quality of life, environment, social) by which officials are promoted? (Discuss: How can political meritocracy be reconciled with modern ideas about democracy in both practice and theory?)

2.5 Selection of officials

How are officials recruited, trained, promoted? The CCP Central Committee has the formal authority to select the country’s top leaders, but who actually determines the slate of nominees to be ratified by the Central Committee? China was the first country to evolve a sophisticated and meritocratic system for the selection of political leaders. Which abilities matter, and how should they be measured? What are the merits and demerits of the recommendation and examination systems?

2.6 Training

How is China’s unique mandatory training system structured? How has that helped with harmonious growth and evolution over the last 30 years? How is training different for Party officials and government officials?

2.7 What’s the difference between networking and guanxi?

What are princelings? How does guanxi form identity and trusted circles? How is the attitude towards guanxi declining due to anti-corruption efforts?

2.8 Membership

Number of Members, demographics… How that has changed over Time? What is the educational background (engineers vs lawyers)? What is the percentage of women? Why and how is the Party integrated into companies?

2.9 How can non-Chinese people interact with the government?

What are examples of how outside advice is welcome or not welcome?  How is outside council used in policy reform? (Examples: International Advisory Boards to the State Council, Mayor of Beijing, Mayor of Shanghai) (Discuss: how is expertise found and leveraged in other countries?)

2.10 What are the boundaries of discussion and debate?

Territory, religion, human rights?

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3. Law-Based Governance and Policy Implementation

3.1 What does “reform” mean in China’s eyes?

What are the first principles of the Chinese constitution?  By explicit design, does not the legal system first and foremost serve the Party? What implications does this have for those involved in legal disputes who are not Party members? Do foreigners receive fair treatment under Chinese law in disputes with well-connected Chinese counterparties?

3.2 How does the current legal system in China work?

How are conflicts at various levels addressed today? How has it changed over the past 10 Years? Announced changes over the coming years?

3.3 Does democracy have a place in China?

How is Democracy defined in China—人民做主 “rule by people” versus 民主集中制“centralized democracy”. What is the Chinese people desire for the right to vote, versus personal security? How will community engagement evolve over time? (Discuss: What parts of Western democracy are good to incorporate into China’s meritocracy government system in the future? What is not suitable?)

3.4 How has government transparency changed over time?

What are the current obligations of central and local government for information disclosure?

3.5 What are the key challenges in developing Rule of Law?

What does Rule of Law mean? How is judicial staff trained? (Discuss: How can foreign experts help with training?)

3.6 How is the anti-corruption campaign going?

What are the ongoing plans? What are the effects so far? What systemic changes are needed to make these effects last? How is China trying to monitor corruption within a one Party system by citizens as supervisors rather than independent judicial review? (Discuss: How is corruption different in China versus other regions such as United States or India?)

3.7 How is social media playing an increasing role in swaying sentiment before a legal trial?

Discuss: How should this be encouraged or curtailed?

3.8 What is the process of formalizing policies, regulations and guidelines in various bodies and at various levels?

Where—in which institutional arena and at what level—are various policy issues deliberated and adopted? What types of people are involved at various levels? What is the structure of a typical policy, compared to a law in the U.S. or Europe?

3.9 What timeframe do officials in various positions think about when making various types of decision?

Is it really 50 years, or is it limited to an office term?

3.10 How fast are policies implemented?

(Use environmental regulations as an example of the speed of policy setting)

3.11 Enforcement

What are the difficulties with enforcing laws locally?

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4. National 5-Year Plan

4.1 History & Evolution

What is it? How does the 5-Year Plan help govern the country, and how is this governance changing? How compulsory are the targets? How is this similar to a company business plan?

4.2 What is the planning process and who are the stakeholders in creating a 5-Year Plan?

4.3 What are the shortcomings of the 5-Year Plan approach?

Looking back at previous 5-Year Plans, what can we conclude worked well as per plan, and what did not? What lessons have been learned?

4.4 Highlights of current Plan

What has changed since the prior Plan? Upcoming changes for the next. How is Green Finance playing a significant role? How is energy and environment being addressed? How is the manufacturing economy shifting to a value-added manufacturing and services economy?

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5. Financial Markets

5.1 Macro economic trends

Weakening real estate market. Focus on transitioning from manufacturing to services economy. Drive for consumption rather than investment. Active private stock market to get capital into startups and SMEs, to drive innovation and creativity.

5.2 How does the economic system work?

How can China be both Communist and Capitalist? How does a free market work within the boundaries of central government policy? How is China gradually changing from an old command economy, to one in which most of the profits, jobs, and expansion is in private enterprise?

5.3 Brief history on financial reform since the 1970s

How have the Special Economic Zones, starting with Shenzhen, allowed for experimentation and change at lower risk to the central government? What are the implications of the new approach to commercial arbitration being pioneered in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone?

5.4 Priorities on future financial reform

Strategy and progress on deregulation. Plans to make RMB fully convertible. Can the financial sector be liberalized without encountering a major crisis, like the South East Asian financial crisis? How is China dealing with Shadow Banking? What is Hot Money 熱錢 and what is China doing about it?

5.5 Privatization of SOEs

State owned versus private sector SOEs versus private company trends over time. Entrepreneurship. SOE reform- what are the scenarios for privatization? Investors ensure their interest via Corporate governance in SOEs. Can the Party’s need to ensure social stability and to maintain control over the economy be reconciled with economic reforms that allow market forces to dictate outcomes?

5.6 Capital markets

What is the equivalent of the NASDAQ of China? How does the changing stock market affect China's financial sector in 5-10 years? How is this helping private companies raise money at lower cost than bank loans and exit easier than going public abroad, in a transparent channel? What new financial regulations have prompted a rapid increase in domestic stock market and a trend for Chinese companies to delist in the US and list in China? Is China worried about the risk to untrained individual investors? How will China transition to having market signals determine the allocation of capital? How is the government-owned private equity system work differently than the U.S.? How is China creating an OTC market-pink sheet market 新三板 and 戰略?

5.7 Internet financial services

The huge rise of pure Internet investment platforms AntFinance. WeBank. Is Bitcoin legal in China?

5.8 Greening of China’s Financial System in the 13th Five-Year Plan

How does negotiation take place in China? (Activity: Haggle over a purse price.) How does Chinese negotiation, specificity, and enforcement of a Memorandum of Understanding and a signed commercial contract differ from the West? How are termination clauses viewed? payment terms, escrow?

5.9 What regional variation is there in attitudes toward honoring contracts and oral agreements?

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6. Sovereignty

6.1 How do Western concepts of sovereignty differ from Chinese definitions?

6.2 How does China view cross-straits relationships with Taiwan?

6.3 How does China view Hong Kong? How is Zhuhai being positioned?

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7. International Affairs

7.1 Different values for different contexts

In a global world, how can Chinese believe that one system can work for one country, but a different system is fine for another? (Discuss: How can China have cultural collaboration with other countries if cultures are different?)

7.2 Non-interference versus global player

What responsibilities does the China government believe it has, and does not have, to assist other countries in times of need or strife? How does the lack of missionary goals in Chinese culture affect its outbound relationships?

7.3 What role does the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) play in foreign policy?

7.4 What does “saving face” mean?

What are some examples of how Chinese politicians would act differently on the international media to resolve difficult situations, while everyone saves face? (Activity: Act out scenarios.)

7.5 What are China’s view on the U.S., EU (e.g. Greece), Africa?

China is a very closed society compared to the U.S. How is it closed? In what ways is it open? How does it accept new ideas? (Discuss: what is an alternative term for “foreigners”?)

7.6 What is the stance on immigration into China?

What are the most recent regulations? (Discuss: What can China learn from the way immigrants are treated in your country?)

7.7 How can China increase their capability to carry out international affairs?

Why does China not understand how to “talk” to Western media and interact in multilateral platforms? What are the barriers culturally and politically? How freely can Chinese officials travel abroad? Who can act as China’s spokespeople? (Discuss: How can China better communicate in your country?)

7.8 What is China’s sense of itself as a country in its relation with other countries?

How has China’s “century of humiliation” and “unequal treaties” at the hands of foreign powers shaped political thinking in modern Chinese history? What are Confucian theories of just war?

7.9 One Belt One Road

What is the scope of this initiative? Is this a multilateral initiative or a series of bilateral agreements along a trade route? How does China see this developing the region as a whole, versus China as the main beneficiary? (Discuss: How can this benefit your country?)

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8. Outbound Investment

8.1 Trends

Which countries is China most actively investing in and for what? Which large companies are active in the different countries? 

8.2 Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

8.3 China Africa Development Fund (CADF)

China has a long history in Africa – with even more focus since FOCAC started in 2000.  But now there is much less conversation about FOCAC – has this diminished in importance since One Belt One Road emerged? Why does the world accuse China of being the new imperialist power in Africa?

8.4 Corporate Social Responsibility overseas

Chinese law has put more emphasis on corporate social responsibility operating both domestically and overseas. How much are Chinese companies’ impact on local community really governed by Beijing government policies? What is the gap between the Chinese definition of CSR and different local CSR needs?

8.5 Cross-border bridges

Are there, in each region of concern, effective cross-border business associations with key decision makers that can moderate /tackle sticky issues?

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9. Educational System

9.1 How does the current educational system work?

What are the top schools? What is the GaoKao college entrance exam and how does that affect family life? (Watch: film on Chinese students at school, doing calisthenics, reciting lessons)

9.2 What are the strengths and weaknesses of Chinese universities?

How do universities compare with ones around the world? Plans to make China’s top universities world class? How can international universities best work with Chinese universities on basic research?

9.3 How is access to education different for different people?

With local hukou vs migrant laborers? For rich versus poor? Urban versus rural?

9.4 What are the most coveted jobs in China?

9.5 What does the workforce look like?

Talent, training, capability, creativity, research, retirement. What is the Thousand Person Plan to recruit overseas PhD holders?

9.6 Is innovative thinking and outspokenness encouraged in China?

In what environments?

If not, how are new thoughts developed that improve the system or organization?

9.7 What is the state of academic freedom in China?

How much latitude is there for the criticism of established dogmas and leaders?  Can foreign philosophies be studied or advocated?

9.8 Trends in Chinese students studying overseas (for high school vs undergraduate vs graduate school) and international students studying in China.

What happens to students who leave the local system, but cannot go abroad to study and cannot renter the local system? Is China actively helping more Chinese to study abroad and develop domestic capability to interact with other cultures?

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10. Innovation

10.1 What are examples of domestic innovation?

Comparison of radical innovation versus tweakovation in China.

10.2 How is Web+ going to transition all traditional industries in China?

How is China investing in sharing economy, on-demand economy?

10.3 How has the Shanzhai manufacturing ecosystem evolved from copying to innovation?

Please read this article for more details about the Shanzhai industry.  What is happening with the fakes market in China?

10.4 Intellectual property rights

Why, how, and how much is IP now becoming a priority?  What specific incentives (subsidies, tax breaks, promotions, or others) are now given to Chinese entities and people that file patents? How has this influenced behavior? What is the quality of the patents produced as a result of such incentives?  What is the significance of the new IP courts?

10.5 China brands going abroad

China is now the largest exporter of high technology in the world. How are China brands getting ready for the global market?

10.6 How is trust being developed in China to foster innovation?

China is a low-trust, transactional society. How is it trying to change that?

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11. Urbanization

11.1 History of urbanization from blank slate to One Belt One Road since early 1900’s

How is China now innovating at city-scale?

11.2 Urbanization as an economic driver.

11.3 Migration Trends

Societal changes with migrants increasing up to 40%. How is China building inclusiveness?

11.4 Financial investment in infrastructure development

11.5 Innovation at city level

11.6 Is livability/quality of life important?

Shanghai’s Mayor recently dropped GDP as a success metric. How and why?

11.7 China is two extremes- the poorest and richest

What is being done on poverty alleviation and rural development? School food program. Electrification. Infrastructure development. Jobs creation. Urban migration.

11.8 Hukou system

How does this residence system work? What are the societal consequences through various family’s point of views? Why was it put in place? What are some of the ways China is trying to reform it? (Discuss: What can China learn from your country’s social welfare system?)

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12. Energy and Environment

12.1 What are the causes of the environmental crisis?

Which actors in society have benefitted from the dirty path of development? Which actors have actively resisted efforts at cleaning up? Which actors have led the efforts to green China? What obstacles remain?

12.2 What is China’s stance on climate change?

What is revealed by China’s actions on climate change, be that in perpetuating subsidies for fossil fuels or promoting carbon taxes and green energy, and how does that differ from China’s stance?

12.3 What are the motivations for China to deal with environmental issues?

What role do concerns about energy security play in China's energy policy? Are people on the street concerned about environmental protection?

12.4 Is economic growth more important than environmental protection in China?

How has this balance changed dramatically over the last few years? (Watch: video clips of Xi Jinping’s and Li Keqiang’s speeches on environment)

12.5 Renewable energy trends

What are the current goals and progress on various energy sources? What is China’s view on nuclear and large hydro? What is the potential for the deployment of large-scale renewables and distributed generation in China, and what are the challenges of integrating them into the grid?

12.6 Coal consumption trends.

Coal and emission caps. Carbon pricing.

12.7 How is China dealing with the environmental crisis?

What government policies and financial incentives have been put in place? For air, water, and soil pollution? For climate change mitigation and adaptation? For clean energy sources? How far can China go with improvements in energy efficiency? How does this compare with other countries in size of investment and pace of action?

12.8 Where is China finding solutions for the environmental crisis?

From within China and abroad? How has China changed from just the factory of the world to the cleantech laboratory of the world? What role does China play in the development of new energy/environmental technologies globally?

12.9 How is the issue of poaching endangered animals being addressed?

What is the attitude towards animal welfare?

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13. Healthcare in China 

13.1 Key healthcare concerns in China

Changes in incidence of diseases. Why is there an extraordinary rise in obesity and diabetes? What is the ageing trend?

13.2 Healthcare access

What is a typical office visit like for a wealthy urbanite and a rural farmer? What is covered in the healthcare system? Who pays for what? Are there enough trained healthcare staff? (Site visit: local hospital)

13.3 Future direction of healthcare reform

Access, cost, workforce. Capability building: International collaborations with new hospitals. Corruption: Separation of hospitals as a sales channel for medicines.

13.4 Implications of pollution on health (air, water, food)

13.5 Chinese versus Western Medicine

(Activity: Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor demonstrates acupuncture and explains key concepts)

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14. Sports

14.1 How does China’s current national sports program work?

14.2 What are China’s success metrics in sports and what are the priority sports?

e.g., in terms of medal count by type of event – Olympics vs world championships, etc.?

14.3 Current status of professional sports in China

Plans to improve the caliber of play, engagement of the fan base, etc.

14.4 Role of sports in the school system

How does the extreme focus on passing the college entrance exam preclude team sports? How does China’s fitness requirement college entrance exams promote individual fitness rather than team sports?

14.5 “Team player”, “fitness”, “winning”

How do these terms play a role in sports in China?

14.6 Who are China’s top sports heroes?

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15. Military

15.1 What is the primary role of China’s military?

How does the military influence foreign policy?

15.2 Is China arming up?

15.3 What is China’s view on nuclear weapons?

15.4 How does China view territorial issues such as South China Seas and Tibet?

How much discussion is happening within China about this issue outside the military?

15.5 What is China’s view on sending troops to other nations to end skirmishes?

15.6 What role does the military play in cybersecurity?

15.5 Why is China developing a proprietary Bei Dou Navigation Satellite System?   

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