A whole new China
July 17, 2008 1:39 PM   Subscribe

A couple recent documentaries have accurately shown how China is changing and developing at lightning speed. The People's Republic of Capitalism speaks mainly of China's all-consuming economic growth and its ramifications. I was riveted by Frontline's Young and Restless in China and Frontline World: Jesus in China. These show the struggles of the Chinese to keep up with the changes, deal with their hypocritical government and define their beliefs in a society still riddled with corruption.
posted by wundermint (32 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Also: The Great Alcohol Wars of China
Chinese gotta get their drink on.
posted by chillmost at 1:51 PM on July 17, 2008

you might want to consider leaving the editorializing off the FPP.
posted by HuronBob at 1:57 PM on July 17, 2008

china rises was pretty good too... oh and made in china: a decent factory, cf.

btw here's a weblog for china documentaries :P

posted by kliuless at 2:06 PM on July 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

checked the price of china steel lately? they keep this up, they'll be putting a whole lotta people back to work over here.
posted by quonsar at 2:07 PM on July 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

I wish there was a similar set of recent documentaries about the struggles of the citizens of the United States to keep up with changes, deal with their hypocritical government and definine their beliefs in a society still riddled with corruption.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:18 PM on July 17, 2008 [5 favorites]

touché, Joey :)
posted by wundermint at 2:21 PM on July 17, 2008

That's a pretty interesting documentary. Good first post, wundermint!
posted by sveskemus at 2:22 PM on July 17, 2008

chillmost writes "Chinese gotta get their drink on."

Whiskey and green tea is a great drink.
posted by mullingitover at 2:26 PM on July 17, 2008

Why is it--and this is totally off topic--that in films where a guy or a couple are eating Chinese takeout, they never use plates but instead eat from the container, with chopsticks to let us know they are eating Chinese food? Is that how the people in China eat in order to save dish washing?

Did the so-called corruption come with the move toward a capitalist economy or do all systems have this?

In passing, one last observation. North China has very serious water shortage. The largest resource for water in that entire region is--right! Via the mountains of Tibet, and that may explain the Chinese presence in that takeover.
posted by Postroad at 2:30 PM on July 17, 2008

plus tghis

fragrance market coming to China
posted by Postroad at 2:32 PM on July 17, 2008

I just finished watching the part of the Frontline documentary about the doctor and I was really surprised about all the talk about medical insurance and people having to pay for their medicine. I thought China was supposed to be a (pseudo-)socialist country. Is there really no public health care in China?
posted by sveskemus at 2:39 PM on July 17, 2008

Chinese gotta get their drink on.

Instead of yeast for fermenting alcohol, the Chinese use a bioactive agent produced by letting bags of wheat rot on a stone floor. It has lots and lots of different criitters in it, including fungus. It makes for a pretty foul and hangover inducing brew.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:46 PM on July 17, 2008

Also: The Great Alcohol Wars of China
Chinese gotta get their drink on.

What's next:

      "Chinese Gone Wild!"
      "Sichuan Province Spring Break!"
posted by ...possums at 2:51 PM on July 17, 2008

Ah, but take note: The rapid pace of China's economy is now slowing down .

To 10.1%
posted by symbioid at 3:00 PM on July 17, 2008

A couple recent documentaries have accurately shown how China is changing and developing at lightning speed.

I find the assertion that they are accurate to be interesting. Are you claiming to be an authority that can verify the documentaries? Or have you otherwise verified their accuracy?

Not trying to be a jerk, but such statements tend to give me an itch....

That said, we can't take out the editorializing; what would we argue about?
posted by Bovine Love at 3:02 PM on July 17, 2008

not an authority by a long shot, Bovine Love, but have family in China and have visited twice within the past three years and witnessed this boom. I appreciate you thinking about my wording, you're right it's good for debate!
posted by wundermint at 3:06 PM on July 17, 2008

China, China, China. When Nixon went to China it was a big deal in China, but in the US not as much. That China has become a Western boogeyman shows how far they have come since that visit. As a lot of their success has come from plain old hard work by the Chinese people, they deserve some propers.
posted by three blind mice at 3:18 PM on July 17, 2008

Bovine Love, I'm also not an expert but I just returned from Beijing a few weeks ago and I gotta say that the documentaries seem spot on.
posted by esome at 3:39 PM on July 17, 2008

i was in china about 10 years ago. on my final morning there, i took a walk around town with my american friend and my chinese host friend. we saw a sign on a wall, and i asked my chinese friend what it said. 'gambling is bad,' she interpreted, 'prostitution is worse.' my chinese friend has spent every nite with her family playing mahjong for money, and my american friend like to wear skirts up to here, so i made them stand under the sign & i took their picture.

they were going through tremendous growth and attendant growing pains 10 years ago. the pollution was incredible, and people pointed proudly to new buildings while apparently not even seeing the old ones that were in rubble nearby. consumption was a point of pride.

what concerns me is the grumbling i hear from people about how all our oil/gas price ills would be resolved if it weren't for china. i think it's being set up as the bad guy country, so that once we've run our reckless course in the middle east, we'll have a new target for our hostilities. this article evens out toward the middle, but comes on pretty strong in the lead paragraphs Why should you care? Because China's catching up to us in its demand for oil, and if you think you have worries about prices at the gas pump now, just you wait! where most people would probably stop reading.

china has nothing but the same problems we've had. our global position has allowed us to run the pollution course and at least strap in ways to halt & reverse damage. by the time china gets into a position where they might be able to dig themselves out of rampant overconsumption and overproduction, i'm afraid we'll be bearing down on them with guns cocked.
posted by msconduct at 3:46 PM on July 17, 2008

Additionally, I recommend Up the Yangtze.
posted by casaubon at 3:53 PM on July 17, 2008

msconduct brings up a good point about oil. The irony there is that the United States IS the model for China's oil consumption - China wants to be just like the US in terms of creating a middle class where everyone has a family car. Instead of grumbling maybe we (the US) should simply be a better role model by using and developing alternatives.
posted by wundermint at 5:20 PM on July 17, 2008

MsConduct: "...by the time china gets into a position where they might be able to dig themselves out of rampant overconsumption and overproduction, i'm afraid we'll be bearing down on them with guns cocked."

The more I hear about China, the less I think a war is in our future, and the more I think Joss Whedon was more prophetic about Firefly and Serenity than anyone wanted to admit at the time. Only, he leaned more towards western culture surviving five hundred years from now predominantly cuz that was his audience.

Had Joss been more accurate, I doubt FOX would have broadcast even the pilot. Western civilization wouldn't recognize it. The dialogue would have been in chinese with occasional english profanity. This wouldn't have happened solely by war, but by gradual cultural and social evolution.

Well.. Maybe a little war, provided China ever tries to do to us what they did to Tibet. I predict America will be slightly less zen about it all. The end result tho? Ask Miranda.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:32 PM on July 17, 2008

China reminds me a lot of where Taiwan and South Korea were twenty years ago - living under brutal, corrupt regimes, but with a rapidly growing middle class and a burgeoning, modern economy. Follow the plot, and the outcome is obvious... China will be a modern democracy in twenty years. The path won't be without bumps in the road, massive setbacks, and regrettable decisions (Like the "taming" of the Chinese West. Fine, young Han Chinese are eager to point out that America completely demolished the cultures and populations of the indigenous populations to the west, not quite catching on that it's a national shame, an indelible stain on our heritage, not a clever policy or point of pride.) The result of a growing middle class in China will, inevitably, be a push towards democracy. It's simply the most efficient way to get things done, if World Wars (going back to the Reformation) are any judge... democracies win more conflicts than authoritarians, and are, in the long haul, cheaper to run.

The upshot is, I am completely and totally stoked at the direction China is taking. I will, in my lifetime, see an Asian Union rise up as a Third Great Power and a natural partner and ally of the US and the EU. Three free civilizations, united in trade and differentiated by mutual admiration of culture. (Naruto, meet Beethoven. Beethoven, meet Seinfeld. Are we all acquainted? Good!)

I do understand there will be at least two decades of human rights abuses and environmental atrocities... and I also understand it will not help the process along to let them off the hook for either.

I know, I'm a sap and a dreamer, it will all end in tears, but even the most hardened cynic has to admit, there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel... the cycle of history, for once, going our way.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:16 PM on July 17, 2008

I don't really understand China and the direction it's headed in. Sure, I can see the desirability, on the surface anyway, of the Western/American lifestyle. But certainly someone in the Chinese leadership must have an idea of how desperate we are here in the U.S. to figure out how we're going to keep that going — and how little an idea we have of how to do it.

For a country that's so often pegged as a U.S. rival, they're taking a huge gamble in trying to emulate what looks like a hugely unsustainable and ultimately doomed (in its current form, anyway) enterprise.

I mean ... automobiles? Is there anyone who really thinks, given the heartburn we're having over here trying to figure out some way to break our oil habit, that individually-owned, petroleum-burning autos are really the be-all and end-all of transportation? Or even a good idea, if you were starting from scratch? And yet that seems to be their goal.

Do they just not get this? Or do they know but have such faith in our ability to overcome all the sustainability problems that they're convinced Western-style living can made to scale?
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:29 PM on July 17, 2008

well i think they're trying to be singapore, but like it's a relatively tiny (and well run) city-state, while china is of course the most populous nation in the world...

btw saw this yday :P
Amazing Stat: California Uses More Gas than China - "But China's oil thirst is growing -- to almost 20 billion gallons in 2007 -- and perhaps as early as this year, China's 1.3 billion people will overtake California's 37 million people in total gasoline and diesel usage." [cf. altho, if i may, lemme also plug my previous post]
posted by kliuless at 10:11 AM on July 18, 2008

I thought China was supposed to be a (pseudo-)socialist country.

Look up "socialism with Chinese characteristics." I don't understand it entirely (or at all, to be honest), but that's the official line. The Chinese government doesn't bother with free health care, welfare, unions, etc. They just control a few major firms that dominate the vital industries such as banking and energy. The aim, as far as I can tell, is to keep society as a whole functioning smoothly, not to protect everyone in it.
posted by fatehunter at 5:19 PM on July 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Beijing lockdown
posted by homunculus at 1:51 PM on July 27, 2008

« Older Art of the Kathmandu Valley   |   Watchmen Trailer is Up. It's not good. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments