I had first heard about Ted Koppel’s Discovery Channel special, The People’s Republic of Capitalism, when Koppel appeared on The Daily Show a few weeks ago to promote the special. If you don’t recall, Koppel is most famous for his decades of reporting on ABC’s Nightline. The 4-part mini-series documentary starts today, Wednesday, July 9th thru Saturday, July 12th airing at 10 PM EST/PT. The New York Times summarizes the series in the article, “Ted Koppel Tours a China Brimming With Dreams and Consumerism“:
“…“The U.S. relationship to China is so intricate and so deep that Americans need to know that it’s more than cheap labor at Wal-Mart or tainted toys,” Mr. Koppel said. “We’d have a hard time extricating ourselves from it.” “The People’s Republic of Capitalism,” shown over four consecutive nights, is being broadcast on the eve of the 2008 summer Olympic Games in Beijing, at a time when human rights advocates have been urging a boycott of the Games to protest China’s crackdown on antigovernment protests in Tibet and its support of the government in Sudan… Mr. Koppel contends that the story of China is as entertaining and dramatic as any novel: 300 million people have escaped poverty in less than a generation, and millions are migrating from the countryside to places like Chongqing, where the juggernaut of capitalism is powering a rapid transformation.”
I’ve already set my DVR to record the series. Having been to Shenzen, Shanghai, and Beijing, I’m always interested to see how China is portrayed on American television and in the media. As I have commented on this blog before, a lot of the alarmist views on China are quite reminiscent of the “Japan-is-going-to-takeover-America” scare of the late Eighties and early Nineties.
Although I’d have to say that concerns of China’s long-term impact on America is probably going to be a lot greater, especially as China’s economy will eventually surpasses the size of the U.S. economy (some estimate in the year 2035) – which would return China to being the largest economy in the world (as it almost has been for the history of the world, until the 20th century)