Expat interest in politics in China

Hello everyone,

As an expat, your day-to-day life in China is impacted by decision-making at the political level in your host country as well as in your country of origin. We would like to know how involved you think expats should be in the political day-to-day of either their host or home country?

Can expats vote during elections which take place in their country of origin? Can you do so online or through embassies/consulates in China?

What is the administrative process which has been set up in China to enable expats to vote in their country of origin?

To which extent should political life in China include expats and their concerns? Should they be more active as a community to make their voices heard?

Are there any precautionary measures to observe during election period in your host country? Any local prohibitions?

Do you keep up with politics in China?

Thanks for sharing your experience.


I will answer this question very simply, don't get involved in what is not your country or business.  I tell all my foreign teachers to avoid politics and religion.  Stick to the weather and just enjoy life here.  China is NOT your country of origin, you can speak to anything you wish about your home country, but keep your "nose" out of what is not yours.  Simple rule, simple life, just keep it simple.

BTW, foreign teachers who have not followed this rule have found themselves deported.  No joke and I do have proof.

I'm from the USA and I suggest that you stay out of the politics of the country you are living in.  It is not your business to take an interest in them.  That is simple and direct.  You will find yourself in trouble if you try to get involved.

Yes I can still vote in the elections in my state and the Fed elections.  I stay in touch with the goings on in the US, just as a matter of interest.  Since I do not plan to ever live there again I do not vote.


Yep, totally agree.  I stopped voting about 15 years ago, when I learned that trying to vote when you are overseas is pain to do and very limited.  I also stopped because I really don't live in the US except for one month each year so my voice really shouldn't count.  I was very involved in my local area when I lived locally but now I don't so I don't feel it's my business any longer. 

BTW if as an expat you want to stay connected be sure you keep in touch with your country's embassy.  The US Embassies in China offer monthly out-reach events and if you register with the embassy you can get the alerts.  I live in the Northeast so the closest embassy to me is Shenyang, and they offer events all around the Northeast including in my city.  Just FYI for anyone.

Irai,  Like you I was very involved when I live in the states.  While I don't vote I still voice my views because I have family living there.  But like I said it is best to stay out of China's politics.

lrai :

Simple rule, simple life, just keep it simple.

BTW, foreign teachers who have not followed this rule have found themselves deported.  No joke and I do have proof.

Yup, I personally have known 2 to be expelled, one was given 15 minutes to pack and put on a flight to Hong Kong.

A third I knew was given a full days sit down about his comments. All Three's comments were based around Taiwan, a taboo subject. Tibet or China South Sea talk won't help you much either.

But anyway, chatting about China Politics is quite interesting if you are willing to learn and not teach others about their own system.

However, now isn't a great time to get into it, there's a bit of a swelling throughout the people with the current Government Leaders and quite a bit of contempt about, especially the feeling of a lot of personal freedoms seemingly being lost, something I tend to partly agree with there. Not the place it was 15 years ago that's for sure, still an awesome place to be though none the less.

Best just be quiet these days, at least until the Hong Kong nonsense is finished.

Had a silly russian girl blathering on about it but she never faced any consequences.

Either way there is a double edged sword when it comes to ones own ignorance of politics.  The government does do things that impacts you, look at the value of the RMB and life in Hong Kong with all the expats in Hong Kong facing scrutiny/denial of visa/detention/fines from mainland authorities. 

Nevertheless particularly in china there is little point in pointing out perceived deviations from "international norms".  You can get argue with a mainlander to the point where you can get him to admit that the PRC has about as much claim on Taiwan as the Dutch do,  that Xinjiang is an atrocious state of affairs, but you will stir up more resentment than converts because most people have come to embrace the status quo.  The chinese government isn't totally lying when it tells people that without them, there would be chaos.  Right now the population is too old to want to weather some kind of major social upheaval.

Nevertheless make sure you have access to outside lines of communication, stay in the know about things, international politics that could affect your life.  China has a great way of overlooking one's sins until it become politically or economically expedient to punish, the local governments are better at doing this than beijing imo (depending on where you live.)  It's easy to open a business here, easy to get everything off the ground, but in doing so you could be committing a  plethora of infractions that will come back and obliterate your gains.

Every infraction you knowingly or otherwise commit can come back and bite you in a big way.  Always have a contingency plan to leave before the politics between your home country and beijing get too toxic. Or you find out that local authorities just refuse to allow you to continue to operate.

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