- Find a diagram of the United States government and compare it to
that of the Chinese government. What is the relationship between the
federal, state, and local governments in the United States? Is this
similar to or different than the centralized unified system of government
found in China?
- Describe the role played by political parties in the United States,
especially by the two major parties — the Democrats and the Republicans.
Is this similar to or different than the role played by the Chinese
- When discussing the U.S. government, we often speak of "the
balance of power" between the three branches of government — the
executive (the president), the legislative (Congress), and the judicial
(the Supreme Court). What is the "balance of power"?
What is its purpose? How is this similar to or different than the Chinese
system of government?
- Would Americans accept the idea that any one element
of the government — the president, Congress, or the Supreme Court,
or one of the political parties — should be stronger than all the
- What place is given to individual freedom in the American definition
of the ideal political society? How does this seem to differ from the
Chinese sense of the ideal political society or from their sense of
an individual's rights?
- On what principle do Americans disagree with the Chinese system of
government? Think about and discuss the following:
a) Do you and your classmates agree on how people "should" behave?
Would Americans in general allow someone else to tell them how to behave?
While some Americans might agree with the notion that all people should
behave in a certain way, wouldn't they be less confident in deciding
how to establish and enforce a standard of behavior? How would the
entire society decide what was correct behavior, especially if people
b) Is there a committee at your school in charge of monitoring the
social behavior of all the students? Is there such a committee in your
neighborhood or at you or your mother's or father's place of work?
c) How do Americans feel about laws that affect our personal behavior?
What type of arguments are generated by issues such as: school prayer;
the banning of books from public libraries or high school reading lists;
the opening of a pornographic bookstore? How are the debates generated
by these issues resolved?
d) Do Americans accept government censorship of the news, media, television,
radio, newspapers? Would Americans generally agree that through open
discussion and free expression of opinion, the correct ideas emerge?
How would this differ from the Chinese view?
- Do we, as Americans, accept the idea that someone in government should
be able to tell us how best to arrange our personal affairs? What job
we should take? Whom and when we should marry? When we should have
children and how many?
- Perhaps you know people or perhaps you yourself or your family belong
to an organization or a religious group that sets standards for personal
behavior. How is this the same or different from the government? Can
people choose to belong or not to belong to such a group, or does the
group automatically include everyone in the society?
| back to top |