China: Secrets, Selection, Innovation, and Change

2012 ,    » 36 Comments

China: Secrets, Selection, Innovation, and ChangeA series of videos that discus China's dirty secrets (pollution), unnatural selection (one child policy), innovation (intellectual piracy), race for gold (Olympic success), and whispers of change (reformation).

China's juggernaut economy is the envy of the world, but at what cost to the country's people and environment?

China is facing an array of social dilemmas including a widening gender imbalance, decreasing fertility rate and an ageing population. At the root is its controversial one-child policy, which China is now considering loosening up on.

China is cultivating a new wave of visionaries in a bid to revive its slowing economic growth. But it also faces allegations of unfair trade practices and intellectual piracy by some of its major trading partners in the US and Europe.

China is home to some of the world's best athletes. At the Beijing Olympics, the country topped the medals table, winning 100 medals in 25 sports, including 51 golds. In London 2012, it became clear that China's state-backed sports system is slowly being overhauled. What does China sacrifice in its relentless pursuit of gold?

Will China stick to the status quo, or will it reform in a planned methodical manner or in a flurry of protests from a disgruntled populace?

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 2 hours)

Ratings: 5.90/10 from 10 users.

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36 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Roger Gordon

    All in all this is progress. But we western people should think twice what we are buying and if it is ROHS compliant and if we really need that stuff. The women lighting up and sniffing plastic was terrible this could be prevented with analyzing machine. Mercury dripping in ground water that could be prevented of informing people and make better storage rooms. The village to move cause of incinerator that is most sad thing of all. Historical places should be concealed. And it looks to me that greedy "recycling" companies big and small are taking advantage of uninformed people and letting them do the dirty job on theirs gardens.

    Overall documentary is well made as most of non interested issues by al jazeera. Recommended.

  2. malcome jones

    Interesting documentary, i think China has now become the dominant country in our world....Although people in the west might disagree...By hook or by crook, they are now the largest economic nation that other countries want to brake into....My own company bend over backwards, to have our goods made in china, because it is cheaper and more efficiant

  3. malcome jones

    greedy "recycling" companies big and small are taking advantage of uninformed people and letting them do the dirty job on theirs gardens

    THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN IN THE USA ? (but if it did, we would make a damn good hollywood movie about it)

  4. sknb

    Do you feel any guilt for associating with this company?

    I don't ask this to condemn you... I ask because I am genuinely curious...

  5. Roger Gordon

    Surely I didn't want to offend western small to medium sized companies. Of course the Big one in west are selling or buying from small ones in China. Anyways many bad things happened in the United States of America and not very much people know of it just to mention two worst ones is multiple nuclear detonations above own grounds and chemical pollution of oil and pesticide companies.
    So where are those hollywood movies? And why would hollywood care about this kind of issue? I don't see the connection between film industry and truth. As film is entertainment so it is to amuse or idle someone.

    And never say never as they say.

  6. slpsa

    Cheap labor is the bottom line. As always, money and profits come first. On the backs of the Chinese people, the powers that be continue to exploit their hard work. The corporations are having an absolute heyday in China. Not many restrictions or environmental checks and balances. They reap unreal profits from doing business in that country. Nice gig if you can sleep at night.......On their mountains of money, those shady investors sleep very, very well, I am sure. I have been to China. As in Iran and many other countries, vilified by western media, do not hate on the people, hate the Government and system they are forced to live under and hate on the corporations that take full advantage of conditions on the ground in China and other countries. People are people, we are not all that much different. The workers in China have bills to pay, mouths to feed, jobs to keep, nagging wives, husbands, whiny kids, bad bosses, so does Ahmed in Tehran, or Bill in New York, or Tim in Toronto, or Basil in London. The more you look at what I am saying, the more you realize the media is owned by the very people spreading messages of hate, fear and intolerance of places like China and Iran to name the ones most in the crosshairs. I find it ironic watching docs like China Rising, and a few others, and watch the crud they talk about. The old faithful scoundrels trick, talk out of both sides of their political mouths, warning about the dangers of China and others, while taking their money in the other hand. The very corporations that have left North America and based themselves in Asia are the real problem. Exploitation, by any means necessary.

  7. slpsa

    One small example of what I mean about the system: I go to China, I make good money as an engineer working for the company I do. In the mids 100's. The homegrown people I go and work with, train or meet with? With the same if not better education? They are paid much, much less than what I am, to do about the same job. As in, 30k or less a year those people make when you translate that to Canadian money. Years of schooling, years of experience, yet the people they work for rake in the 3/4 they are not being paid. The cost of building and maintaining mines, for example, is relatively close, anywhere. The only time it gets pricey is when it is remote, with no access to water or lakes, rivers, oceans, what have you. Infrastructure then costs a lot more. Companies build them and maintain them for about the same basic cost, bottom line. Mines in North America mostly pay very good wages, for any job. Compare that to most Asian mines, in fact, compare them any mines at all, you would find China rips of their workers, completely. This is why corporations move operations these days. They do it on the cheap, take all they can from the Chinese people and decimate the North American economy by doing so. They have that type of power. Whether people like it or not. Most half smart people get it.

  8. Crab_Nebula

    Sorry Mr.Lee ... Ancient Chinese Secret...

  9. Harry Nutzack

    i think this doc is best commented on module by module. the first episode (devoted to pollution related to industry) evoked memories of my childhood here in the USA. the same problems existed here as a result of our industrial efforts. the costs involved in implementing cleaner industry was largely the impetus to export industry from our country. it seems a bit hypocritical to have any delusion that the same bean counting wouldn't rear it's ugly head in those far removed factories. we still buy products made from the same materials, we still dispose of them rather than repair them. the toxins from both ends of this cycle HAVE to go somewhere. china no more has a magic wand to make them disappear than we did. our consumerism drives the problem. that "60% recycled material" label might make you feel "greener", but the reality is that label means that woman is burning and sniffing plastic to sort it. our lakes and rivers have gradually become much less toxic because china's (and other country's) have become much more so. in short, we just swept our dirt under someone else's rug, to both of our detriment (ours in a jobs lost sense, theirs for the obvious reason). it would seem we long ago sacrificed any semblance of responsible behavior for the sake of higher profit margins, and lower cost goods. perhaps it is time to correct that? corporations will never shun our consumer business (no matter what rhetoric their paid for mouthpieces may spew), so perhaps the time has come to force them to do the right thing to do business here. drastically restrict importation of consumer goods, and demand clean industry (with strict draconian enforcement). the ONLY losers in that equation are folks like the walton family (the walmart billionaire dynasty), and that loss is only temporary. this solution should have been implemented a half century ago. the fact that it wasn't has caused economic ruin here, and ecological ruin elsewhere.

  10. heavyrocker


  11. phillip

    OK, this is confusing. Are you saying all the industialization in China is bad for Chinese people? It is hard for me to believe because I do see a marked rise in living standards, and quality of life in China. Explain to me.

  12. phillip

    What happens if you factor in the cost of living? It seems to me that the wage is low, but the cost of living is also quite low, and there is more room to save. So, this comparison is not right.

  13. phillip

    This is a fetist of Chinese culture. To be honest, Chinese people don 't talk too much about ancient Chinese secrets..LOL

  14. phillip

    It is life. There is a price to pay for industrialization. The same processes that that occured in America in the early 20 century, and England in the 19 century. What I want to know is why you delude yourself?

  15. IndustryOfBlame

    You obviously didn't understand sispsa's point, so I will try a different approach.

    China's material industry is set up primarily to cater to the needs of international demand, not the needs of its own citizens. The material wealth getting exported abroad returns immaterial wealth, namely western currency, which does the average Chinese citizen no good whatsoever. Instead, that currency sits at the top of the capitalist food chain where it's used to buy services and influence from western companies, institutions and states.

    The average Chinese worker rides a bicycle or a crowded commuter bus/train to work every day, works up to 12-hour shifts, and lives in cramped quarters. He has very little contact with his family, since he's a migrant worker from the contryside trying to raise money for him or someone else to get a proper education.

    He may have what's considered a higher standard of living compared to his relatives in a rural province, and he probably probably has access to the internet and owns a cellphone. However, he's still contributing more to the material wealth of the average western citizen than to his own, because of his cheap labor. The vast amount of capital being moved around in the US and Europe thanks to cheap consumer products creates countless jobs for the middle-income citizen, and alot of exta topping on the cake for the 1% wealthiest, topping which wouldn't be there had these people not opted for cheap, Chinese labor.

    In the end, the whole thing is a twisted, inefficient way of looking at industrial production and my guess is that it won't last for many more decades.

  16. slpsa

    There has been a slight increase. You would find that it has only happened in the bigger centers, where these large factories groom the workers from a huge population base. They do not pay much. You would have to have been there to know what I mean I guess. Life in the countryside, of which China has a lot of, has not changed much in a century. The two mining sites I worked at are rural, and far from large population centers. Ox and cart Philip, bicycles and small mopeds, maybe, once in a while. And old buses...really old buses, people on roofs. Not cars. Paths, not paved roads. That type of living. It has industrialized many urban areas. The rest of it sits as it has for probably centuries. Tourists are blown away, as I was. When you leave the major areas, you swear you have stepped back in time.

  17. slpsa

    Nail on the head mate. Nice one. As you say, the richest communists and arse kisser's in China get the bread. The average person has trouble putting food on the table, of which that table may be in another province, far from their workplace. They may not see their loved ones for years if they must work 7 days, of which many do. I worked with men , all men by the way, that fit this description to a T. They slave away, send the money home to feed the wife and kids, and on and on. Typical Chinese workers. The people at the top get the cake and they eat it too. The workers get peanuts. Peanuts would not buy you bread and milk over here in North America for a weeks work in a sweatshop.

  18. phillip

    Excuse me, but the same thing could be said for Shanghai. Now, 80% of the workforce is employment by private businesses.

    This is the price Chinese people have to pay. They pay for it with their blood, and sweet to save some money so that their child can have a better future.

    Note that countries like Asian tigers, and Japan did the same thing. They work, save, so that their children have a chance to a better education, and life.

  19. phillip

    Like I said, China 's story is a consumption story. wages is rising at double digits, while consumption is rising at 8% per year.

  20. slpsa

    Love their Government mate? With all due respect, it is evident, you have never been there. If you are talking about nationalism, they are at the top of that list. Love of government, that is quite another story. I spent the better part of a year there twice. You mate, are blowing arse bubbles this time. I think you would find, as in any Country, they are divided about their system of governance, some like it, some hate it. There is no clear majority. I met a whole lot of people, and like any other human, they have differing views and opinions of their leaders. United over government? Not a chance. United by love of country? 100 per cent. Again, it is obvious, you have never traveled there. I can spell it out for you, one more time. City people= doing a tad better. Rural citizens live mostly like they have for centuries. I cannot understand what part of that confuses you or you doubt. Buy a ticket, go visit some big cities, then some small towns and villages out in the rural areas, then you can come back and question what I say. Deal?

  21. slpsa

    I question those numbers, where they come from and who figured them out. I have never questioned the Chinese average joes work habits, they are as you say, tops in sacrifice for the betterment of their family's. Not much they will not do to make sure all of their loved ones eat, and get educated. Literally blood, sweat and tears. On that, you stand 100 per cent right. The part we are trying to explain to you is that the people at the top, are the ones making the bread, it is evident in front of your face as you travel around the Country, that the people who are consuming and getting raises are not your average laborer or farmers son toiling in large factories or underground mines. I worked with people who were at polar ends of the scale. The managers and white hats at the mines were fat cats. The people doing the actual labor work were gaunt, dirty, malnourished. I was lucky enough to be able to mix with both groups over my time there. An interesting viewpoint to be able to talk and eat and drink with those who take the largest portion of benefits from this booming economy, and do the same with the workers who get the crumbs. I am sure, that is not hard to get your head around. You have never come off as less than informed most times philip, the difference here is, you are reading this stuff, and not seeing it with your own eyes.

  22. malcome jones

    Roger, reading your reply, i must admit i dont know where your coming from.?..Maybe your using a translater?
    Many bad things have happened in usa, as they have in other country's all around the world,,,I assume the nuclear detonations you mention, are Hiroshima and Nagasaki....Bhopal was a terrible incident, and your right, no movie about that....Please expand on your comments, Then i could give you a more intelligible reply

  23. phillip wong

    Look, I am just telling you the facts. The facts are China is a consumption success story. Its wage, and consumption is growing at double digit, and 8% respectively. With this grow, they are able to bring millions of people out of poverty every single year. The middle class in China is 300 million now, and by 2020, there will be 600 million in the middle class. These are numbers that reveal certain measure of progress. Those Chinese that work in factories, they are their to build a better future for their children by sending them to school. They are investing in their human capital.

  24. phillip wong

    Look, If you study the industrial revolution in England, and early America. They are the same story. Capitalism is exploitation of men over men. There is no justice, but the numbers cannot be refuted. One can even argue that China is already equal to the US in GDP, since, much of the US economy is service. In terms of amount tradable goods such as computers, smartphones, food, cars, gas, by any measure, China is already surpass the US in consuming these. We can doubt government figures, but we can 't doubt foreign company profits in China that are growing at double digits. These numbers tell us more Chinese are buying, consuming, and starting businesses. The foundation of capitalism.

    China is following the path of other east Asian economies, Japan, S Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. China is following the same path; which is start with low end manufacturing, and move up the value chain.

  25. slpsa

    I agree with you actually. My point was that this new found capitalism at this moment, is reminiscent of the time of the robber barons. Exactly. It will change given what happened here, but as we know communism and this type of system do not necessarily mix. It is yet to be proven that they can co-exist and grow for all citizens of China at this point. That being said, every Country, successful or not, have their impoverished segments of society regardless.

  26. phillip wong

    I find it surprise you say:""we know communism and this type of system do not necessarily mix". Make no mistake, there is no communism in China. This just show how much you know about China: nothing at all. Communism is only in name only. Capitalism is natural, and cultural blood of the Chinese people. The Holidays in China is in one way, or another an extension of business meetings, and wishes. The Chinese in Asia are know as "the jews of Asia" according to the Koreans, Japanese, and South East Asians for a reason. The system that is running China is a continuation of the dynastic system in China. Legalism, and Confucius ideals of the family, combined with the historical role of the Chinese state in maintaining Chinese culture through cultural demonstrations.

    Chinese/East Asian ideal, culture, and genetics are very different from the west. It cause a lot of misunderstanding if you persist in seeing it from your point of view. Also, it would be a mistake to see Chinese as being very group orientated as the Japanese( or to a lesser extend, Koreans), because Chinese are highly individualistic. Western Stereotypes is a terrible guide.

  27. emenot

    China have no hesitation to sacrafice a few hundred million of their own in argument of progress, as those slaughter lambs are consider liabilities in the rural countryside and nobody would notice anyways... Another reason is that the Chinese populance really don't care what happens to others have nothing to do with them so dirty deads will continue for many decades if not centuries to come!

  28. emenot

    phillip wong, do you know how much these middle class make? do you know how much their affortablities of secondary schooling requires, what about housing cost and living cost that are factors into their daily struggles? When was you last time into China? I meant not just karaoke bars and the girls that you take out on or before closing times(that you may considered middle class chinese)!

  29. emenot

    How do you measure the other 1 billion improvish uneducated peasants, what is your definition of middle class and their income?

  30. emenot

    How could you ignore the tens of thousands of protest and riots that is happening in China every day?

  31. emenot

    If you eat and breath poison, you get cancer. I had many friends that spend 10 years or more in the name of business and profit in china, most had died of lung, kidney and liver cancer or had been destroyed financially by the PRC... SAD!

  32. Odd Sigve Tendenes Tengesdal

    Interesting way to fish. Never seen birds utilized like that before :)

  33. Odd Sigve Tendenes Tengesdal

    I would argue that Norway don`t have a single person under the poverty line according to CIA website. I`m currently attending school with a student loan. It`s not much, but I manage with some help from my family. This is also choice, but I see the 4 years of little money is worth it when thinking on how much more I`ll make when I`m done.

  34. Odd Sigve Tendenes Tengesdal

    Did the American really say it`s unfair for China to subsidize their technological products? It sounded like America do not subsidize products.

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