Education About Asia: Online Archives

China Rises

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A FOUR-PART DOCUMENTARY INTERNATIONAL CO-PRODUCTION OF THE CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION (CBC), THE NEW YORK TIMES, DISCOVERY TIMES, ZDF—GERMANY TELEVISION, FRANCE 5, AND BRITAIN’S S4-C.

DVD, 4 EPISODES: “FOOD IS HEAVEN,” “PARTY GAMES,” “GETTING RICH,”AND “CITY OF DREAMS” (44:30 EACH), HIGH DEFINITION, COLOR, 2006

DISTRIBUTED BY THE DISCOVERY TIMES CHANNEL.

OFFICIAL CHINA RISES WEB SITES: www.cbc.ca/chinarises www.nytimes.com/specials/chinarises/intro/index.html

China Rises represents an extraordinary international collaboration that pooled the resources of documentary makers in the United States, Canada, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom to accomplish a project literally and figuratively too large for any to complete alone. The result is an exquisitely photographed and thoughtfully scripted introduction to the “new” new China in the era of economic reform. This documentary portrait of China refuses to get trapped in stereotypes—for every economic “winner” profiled, also profiled is an economic “loser;” for every booming urban center there is a rural contrast; for every industrial success story there are cautionaries about industrial accidents and environmental carelessness; for every young person there is an encounter with generations of family; and for every male portrayed there is a parallel female profile.

The power of this documentary series is that it refuses to be seduced by a simplistic vision of what twenty-first century China is or isn’t. In best dialectic fashion, the documentary seeks truth from facts and constantly presents the viewer with the dramatic contrasts and insistent conundrums that are modern day China. Perhaps better than any other video I have seen, this series introduces viewers to the contradictions that make up the reality of present day China. At the same time, it carefully avoids the pitfalls common to China documentaries. It does not orientalize or romanticize pre-Liberation China, though it respects China’s past. It does not lionize or demonize the contributions of Mao Zedong, though it recognizes Mao’s continuing importance as an icon of China’s modern identity. Neither does it succumb to the economic boosterism that portrays Deng’s economic reform program as salvation history, and the socialist market economy as an unmitigated success.