From PBS NewsHour comes China: Power and Prosperity, an immersive feature-length exploration of the country's internal progress and growing sphere of power and influence across the globe.
Featuring insights from more than 70 interview subjects, the film examines the values promoted by President Xi Jinping, and how his embrace of Communist ideals is shaping the future of the country. Do his efforts represent a prosperous diagnosis for the Chinese people, or a compromised system that squanders personal freedoms?
In some parts of the country, the president enjoys a reputation as a leader of near mythic status. Evidence of the "cult of Xi" can be seen across the countryside. Billboards and films are produced in his honor and school curriculums are designed to promote his infallibility. Meanwhile, in cities like Hong Kong, protestors have taken to the streets to oppose the president's oppressive power plays and abolishment of essential human rights. They cite his extensive use of prisoner camps, surveillance cameras and other paranoia-based abuses of power.
With the Belt and Road initiative, the most expensive infrastructure development plan in history, Jinping has promised a lucrative opening to the rest of the world that will positively impact all Chinese people. Critics view it as a global beltway to unparalleled corruption.
The film also delves into China's technology stronghold, particularly as it relates to the trade wars being waged by American President Donald Trump. The filmmakers charge that China has stolen many of the most consequential products and technologies designed by the U.S. and adopted them as their own, including high-quality cameras, tennis shoes, and military hardware.
Almost every investigative segment in the film reveals the uneasy balance between the power and prosperity of its title. The country is rightfully pushing for electric cars on its roads, but greatly restricts the driving privileges of millions by distributing license plates only to select few through a lottery system. Surveillance companies claim their efforts are creating a safer environment for all, but others insist they are indulging in nefarious intelligence gathering.
China: Power and Prosperity is a comprehensive look at many aspects of modern Chinese life and industry, and how they impact the country's identity in the remainder of the world.