Struan Rutherford, Beijing, China – September 2014







September 2014: Polo

In August, I said goodbye to London, Britain. As soon I landed in Beijing, I was thrown in the deep end as none of the taxi drivers spoke any English. This was the first step towards the political conversations I was having a couple weeks later with some Chinese friends.

After making many Chinese friends in bars and restaurants, I was invited to a polo game at the Tang polo club. Polo was originally a Tang Dynasty Chinese sport but modern polo is certainly a British sport. Despite being one of the few British people there, I was one of the only people who had never seen polo before! However, polo was not the most interesting thing. At the polo ground, I saw a side of China that I had never seen before. Many of the Chinese were polo fans but the most interesting aspect was that they had a big interest in Western politics, in particular Scottish independence. A lot of the Chinese I met were not wanting to discuss Asian politics. In their opinion, European politics are more interesting than Asian politics. Obviously different people have different interests. Not all Chinese people prefer Western political news.

What I thought was interesting was the effect of greater internet access and Western media in China on the growing middle class in China. Besides having an interest in Western culture, many Chinese now have a strong interest in our politics. I believe this reflects the wish of many Chinese to become more integrated with the global community as the country continues to develop. I hope to have more similar discussions in future, when my Chinese improves. This is an example of why I study Mandarin: using Mandarin enables me to discover and understand new things about China! In my opinion, this was a good start to my year in China.

Polo game

Polo game


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