Ted Koppel takes an in-depth look at the economic ties that bind the U.S. to China
"A major achievement … an utterly enchanting education" --The Washington Post
"Terrific … don’t miss it." --USA Today
In this in-depth four-part documentary, Ted Koppel examines China’s new status as an economic superpower and its complex relationship with the United States. He focuses on Chongqing--a city in Sichuan Province with a burgeoning population and big plans for the future. While peasants in outlying areas eke out a meager living, the rising middle class revels in new riches, challenging traditional ideas about religion, sexuality, and consumerism. All this reverberates here in America, where companies scramble for cheap labor, workers find jobs shipped overseas, and shoppers snap up Chinese-made goods at big box retailers.
A year in the making, The People’s Republic of Capitalism shows China’s extraordinary changes through the eyes of its industrialists, assembly line workers, coal miners, taxi drivers, and farmers. Along the way, it provides surprising perspectives on a country fast becoming America’s greatest economic rival and biggest business partner.
- Exclusive interview with Ted Koppel
- 20-page viewer’s guide includes highlights, questions to consider, avenues for further learning, a brief history of the Cultural Revolution, and more.
- Exclusive web extras
An inductee in the Broadcasting Hall of Fame, Ted Koppel has earned 42 Emmys, eight Peabodys, and numerous other awards in his decades of broadcast reporting. For 25 years, he served as anchor and managing editor of ABC’s Nightline, network television’s first late-night news program.
Perhaps nothing crystallizes the theme of Ted Koppel’s excellent Discovery Channel series The People’s Republic of Capitalism
like the production of Ethan Allen couches. Over four episodes, Koppel reveals increasing economic interdependence between the United States and China, and daily business for the American furniture maker is a case in point. While couch bases are made in Chinese factories using cheap labor, those bases are then sent to the U.S. to be assembled with other components. The finished couches are then sent to China to be sold to a growing middle class with money to spare. Such is the cycle of globalization, pushing the U.S. and China into a necessary partnership that has an upside for some and a profound downside for others.
In order to understand that complexity, Koppel tells us, it’s important to grasp rapid changes in China, which has forsaken socialism—the very idea of a classless society—for a fervent embrace of new values and the goal of becoming an economic superpower. Koppel shows viewers how China, on one hand, micro-manages people's lives in very real ways, such as the country's notorious "one child" policy for families, which is designed to lower the nation's enormous population in time. On the other hand, Chinese are enjoying the freedom to pursue aspirations toward economic success and the (sometimes illicit) fruits of hard work. But others don't manage quite as well: Chinese factory workers who battle fatigue to make the equivalent of $20 per week, and the American workers who lost their jobs to their overseas counterparts. This eye-opening series is truly helpful toward understanding our complicated new world. --Tom Keogh
View an excerpt from the booklet included with The People's Republic of Capitalism with Ted Koppel