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Say It Right Series

Koppel on Discovery(TV): The People's Republic of Capitalism

Posted by alexco July 6, 2008 in the Group General Discussion.

I thought anyone who has access to the Discovery Channel on cable would be interested in the in-depth look at the USA-China relationship. Dates, times and info below:

Watch July 9-12 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

Part 1: Joined at the Hip — Wed., July 9, at 10 p.m. ET/PT

The American and Chinese economies are irreversibly intertwined. The common complaint that the Chinese are taking jobs away from American workers is in many cases true. China's cheap and abundant labor attracts manufacturing from all over the world. Still, American economists estimate that the U.S. is as much as $70 billion richer each year because of its relationship with China —something must be going right.

Wal-Mart, America's largest retailer, is able to maintain low prices in part because of cheap Chinese labor. And when Apple sells a $299 iPod (designed in California and assembled in China), the American computer company makes an $80 profit, while the Chinese assembly plant makes just $4.

We'll trace the interconnected web of U.S./China trade, from Mexican migrant workers in North Carolina to a Chongqing teenager working on a boombox assembly line; quality control inspectors at Ethan Allen to a Chinese homemaker shopping at Wal-Mart in Chongqing; and laid-off workers from Briggs & Stratton's Rolla, Missouri plant to the American who runs the Briggs & Stratton plant in Chongqing.

Part 2: MAOism TO MEism — Thur., July 10, at 10 p.m. ET/PT

Chongqing is a city of 13.5 million people — it could be the most populous city that most Americans have never heard of. The largest migration in human history is underway as millions of peasants are on the move from China’s countryside to its booming industrialized cities.

The central government has plans to increase Chongqing’s population to 20 million. This population redistribution, combined with the emergence of capitalism, is having a dramatic effect on Chinese culture. In this episode, we'll profile a cast of characters in and around Chongqing to examine the central issues of traditional values, religion, sexuality and political freedom.

Part 3: The Fast Lane — Fri., July 11, at 10 p.m. ET/PT

China's streets have gone from being jammed with bicycles to being jammed with cars. The nation is adding 25,000 new vehicles to its roads every day — that's more than 9 million a year — and the government is building tens of thousands of miles of new highways. As millions of new drivers hit the road, this newfound freedom is bringing more accidents, more traffic and more pollution.

China will soon become the world's largest producer of cars as well as the biggest market for new cars. Foreign automakers like GM and Ford are already enjoying huge success in China — today, more Buicks are sold in China than in the U.S. Meanwhile, Chinese automakers are planning an assault on the U.S. market with low-cost cars and they hope to be in American showrooms as early as next year.

Part 4: It's the Economy, Stupid — Sat., July 12, at 10 p.m. ET/PT

China has lifted 300 million people out of poverty in less than a generation. It's a remarkable feat, but one that has had profound and often harmful consequences. In this episode, we'll look at the downsides of a booming economy.

Pollution is one of the biggest problems. China powers its economy primarily with coal, a dirty fuel that blackens its skies and cities. Ted Koppel descends 1,000 feet into a coal mine to show the work and danger involved in relying on coal to fuel the country's industries.

With increased investment in infrastructure and new business, corruption is an escalating problem that costs China billions of dollars a year. Koppel explains what the government is doing to stamp it out.

Finally, we'll examine the thorny issue of human rights and how China's economy continues to thrive despite the suppression of free speech and the iron fist of the Communist party. Capitalism, after all, is merely an economic system. While China has wholeheartedly embraced a capitalist economy, it still governs its people with communism's authoritarian rule.


Koppel on Discovery is produced by Discovery Channel's managing editor, Ted Koppel and Tom Bettag, executive producer. They are joined by a team of some of the best researchers and producers in the industry.

Together they are producing a slate of long-form programming exclusively for Discovery Channel that touches on some of the most important events, people and places changing lives today. From field reporting to script writing, every aspect of the series is shaped by Koppel's 42 years of experience and unparalleled journalistic integrity.

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