XiangQi, also known as Chinese chess, is a two-player board game similar to Western chess (sometimes called international chess), chaturanga, janggi and shogi. The modern form of Xiangqi originated in China and is therefore commonly referred to as Chinese chess in English.
In a 2005 report, Professor David H. Li proposed that the reason for the remarkable success of Chinese players in Western chess is because they are experienced in XiangQi, the combative and fast Chinese version of the game.
According to the professor, “There is no question that XiangQi and Western chess are different. Clearly, there are different moves and rules, but their underlying structure is similar – which is to grasp the spatial relationship. Spatial relationship, that is another way of talking about the “manoeuvrability ratio”. In relationship to the degree a game’s spatial manoeuvrability increases, its difficulty increases proportionately, perhaps geometrically or even exponentially. Between XiangQi and Western chess, the former has a higher manoeuvrability ratio, thus it is more difficult. Consequence: When one is accustomed to playing a game with a higher maneuverability ratio, one has an advantage in playing a game with a lower manoeuvrability ratio. Moreover XiangQi introduces synergy into your thinking process and playing style. By broadening your horizon, you start to think more creatively; by improving your grasp of spatial relationship, you are visualizing more dynamically; and by deepening your analytical skill, you play more imaginatively… (Click link for full article)