China’s Challenges (5 x ) – China expert Dr. Robert Lawrence Kuhn chronicles China’s tremendous changes, and how the problems caused by these changes are shaping the lives and futures of more than one billion citizens.
China is an economic superpower: the largest population on earth is undergoing the greatest transformation in history and competing in every arena of human endeavor. China’s growing strengths have global import. But China is beset with severe problems: economic dislocations, dangerous disparities between rich and poor, inadequate and imbalanced social services, epidemic pollution, endemic corruption, tensions over political reform and civil society, uncertainties of beliefs and values, and more.
China’s recent changes have brought about many difficulties, and now raise many questions. Dr. Kuhn investigates the accomplishments and the contradictions of superpower China.
Episode 1: “Are the Chinese People Happy?” – Features the vision of China’s new president, Xi Jinping, who talks about “The Chinese Dream.” But what really lies beneath this “dream?” The Chinese talk candidly about acute social problems: inadequate, unequal healthcare; separate social classes that makes education inaccessible to everyone; the struggle to find affordable housing; and the fate of the elderly whose numbers are growing while society is changing.
Episode 2: “Where is China’s Economy Going?” – China might be an economic juggernaut but what will it take to continue its development? China’s old economic model of low-cost, cheap-labor manufacturing is ending. What transformations are now needed? What are the downsides of China’s frenetic growth? Kuhn reveals how the country’s air and water are now terribly polluted and how society is fracturing, between rich and poor, urban and rural.
Episode 3: “Are the Chinese People ‘Real’ Citizens?” – Chinese people today enjoy much higher standards of living but what about their political and human rights? The emergence of new media and the internet, which galvanizes China’s opinion in dramatic new ways, is a game-changer. With micro-blogs, citizens are aware of their rights and are vocal about situations they face on a daily basis. The government, though authoritarian, must now pay attention to the people.
Episode 4: “China Can Produce. Can China Create?” – How can China become a “moderately well-off society” in a world of turbulent markets and social disparities? What new technologies is China developing? China’s creativity started off with copying brands but when the financial crisis hit, many factories faced bankruptcy and some shifted to the domestic market. A handful of businesses successfully reinvented themselves, but with innovation comes intellectual property rights, an area where China is notoriously lacking.
Episode 5: “What do the Chinese People Believe?” – What values are shaping today’s China? From Confucian ethics to selfless communism, and with today’s burgeoning economy rewarding individual initiative, the Chinese have been hit by waves of ideology. In a country where premarital sex was illegal until 1995 and homosexuality was a crime and labeled a disease up until 1997, and where religion was expected to “wither away,” China has confronted many taboos in a short amount of time. But uncertainties of values and beliefs remain.
Channel: PBS SoCal
Producer: 21st April 2013
TX: Shanghai Media Group / The Kuhn Foundation
Source: PBS SoCal press release