You’ve probably heard a lot in the news recently about China and its complex relationship with the outside world. As China continues to flex its muscles on the global stage, all eyes are on how it handles affairs within its own borders. The BBC has been taking an in-depth look at what life is really like in China today through its BBC China series. From the high-pressure education system to the rapid pace of technological change, China is a country of contradictions. In a place that can feel familiar yet foreign, modern yet traditional, BBC China provides a glimpse into the daily lives of ordinary Chinese citizens. Tune in to discover the challenges and rewards of living in a country that is changing at breakneck speed. China’s transformation is redefining what it means to be Chinese in the 21st century.
BBC’s Long History of Reporting on China
The BBC has been reporting on China for nearly a century, beginning shortly after the BBC was founded in 1922. Over the decades, the BBC has maintained a presence in China, closely following political and social events in the country.
In the early years, the BBC covered major events like the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War. Once the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949, the BBC began reporting on the new Communist government. The BBC’s coverage intensified during events like the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
BBC Documentaries on China: In-Depth Look at Chinese Society and Culture
The BBC has produced several insightful documentaries on Chinese society and culture over the years. These provide a glimpse into the lives of everyday Chinese citizens and an in-depth look at important aspects of Chinese culture.
Wild China (2008)
This six-part series explores China’s vast and varied landscapes, from the Himalayas to the Taklamakan desert. It profiles unique wildlife like the golden snub-nosed monkey and the crested ibis. It also depicts the diversity of China’s ethnic groups, like the Yi and the Nakhi. This visually stunning series gives a sense of the geographic and cultural richness of this immense country.
The Story of China (2016)
Hosted by historian Michael Wood, this six-part series charts the history of China from the Stone Age to the present day. It covers important dynasties like the Shang, Han and Ming, influential leaders such as Genghis Khan and Mao Zedong, and events such as the construction of the Great Wall and the Cultural Revolution. This sweeping overview provides historical context for understanding modern China.
Chinese New Year: The Biggest Celebration on Earth (2016)
This program explores how Chinese New Year is celebrated across China. It profiles unique regional traditions, foods, and festivals like the vibrant Lantern Festival. It also examines how Chinese New Year is observed by Chinese communities around the world, from London to New York to Kuala Lumpur. This peek into the origins and diversity of Chinese New Year rituals demonstrates the cultural richness around this important festival.
The BBC’s documentaries on China offer an in-depth and thought-provoking look at this complex country— its diverse landscapes, wildlife, history, and culture. Spanning both the traditional and modern, these films provide insight into how China came to be what it is today.
Learning Chinese With BBC: Resources for Language Learners
Learn Chinese Through BBC Podcasts
The BBC offers a variety of podcasts to help you learn Mandarin Chinese. Their flagship show is “Learn Chinese with BBC,” which has been airing weekly lessons since 2017. Each 10 to 15-minute episode focuses on a new Chinese word or phrase and teaches proper pronunciation and usage. It’s a great way to build up your vocabulary and listening comprehension through casual, engaging content.
Read Along With BBC News in Chinese
On the BBC Chinese Language website and app, you can read simplified Chinese news articles on topics that interest you. Stories cover current events, culture, travel, and more. Reading the news is an effective way to encounter new vocabulary and see how words are used in context. The site also offers a popup dictionary to quickly look up any characters or words you don’t recognize.
Watch Chinese Dramas and Movies
The BBC offers a selection of Chinese TV dramas, movies, and documentaries to stream on their site and app. Watching Chinese media is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the language and culture. Turn on the Chinese subtitles to follow along, look up unfamiliar words and start picking up natural speech patterns and slang. Some recommendations to start with are:
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三国演义), a historical TV series based on the 14th-century novel.
- Mojin: The Lost Legend (魔域), an adventure movie about tomb raiders in 1940s China.
- Wild China (中国野生), a six-part documentary exploring China’s natural landscapes and wildlife.
Whether through podcasts, news articles or video content, the BBC provides useful and engaging resources for Mandarin Chinese learners of all levels. Their multimedia approach helps you improve in speaking, listening, reading and comprehension.
So there you have it, a quick look at how the BBC is expanding its reach into China. While government censorship and restrictions continue to be a challenge, the BBC is finding creative ways to share its content and journalism with Chinese audiences hungry for independent media. By partnering with Chinese tech companies, launching new digital platforms, and even broadcasting some content in Mandarin, the BBC is making inroads and gaining new fans. Though the media landscape in China remains complicated, the BBC’s efforts prove that where there’s a will, there’s a way. With perseverance and innovation, the BBC is bringing the world to China, one story at a time.