Getting Rich
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Getting Rich

2006, Economics  -   41 Comments
Ratings: 8.45/10 from 83 users.

It is one of the most extraordinary transformations of our time - China. A country long in the grip of communism is now devoted to private enterprise. That is what they had to do for the ordinary people of China to become richer. This new economic superpower is taking on the West. But China's surging economy has a dark side. Can China keep moving forward or will the forces of change tear it apart?

The city of Chongqing is a sprawling metropolis of seven million people. It's the scene of one of the latest chapters in China's remarkable economic rise. Back in the 1980's China's communist party decided to permit the return of private enterprise. In cities along the coast thousands of new factories sprung up fueling an economic boom. Now, China's trying to extent that boom to the interior of the country to places like Chongqing. The government is pouring in money to improve and modernize the city.

Chongqing today is a city on the move; a place where if you're smart enough and tough enough, you can get rich. Like the man who lives there, secluded high above the city. His name is Zuo Zongshen. Zuo is one of the richest men in China. He's a charter member of China's new business elite. A self-made man with a powerful will to succeed.

His family and he were ordinary people. In the eyes of Westerners they would have been considered very poor. When he had the opportunity he cherished it and worked hard. When China's leaders allowed the return of private enterprise Zuo was ready to make his move. His home is a monument to his success. Zuo's palatial estate is tended by a private staff of more than sixty. The interior of his sprawling mansion recalls the splendor of old Europe. On his manicured grounds he keeps black swans and an assortment of animals. English thoroughbreds and Zuo's special passion, a collection of pedigree dogs housed in kennels kept immaculately clean.

For most of the year Zuo lives there alone. His wife works for him in the United States where she lives with their young son. That way he has more time to work because he's by himself and he has nothing to worry about. At night he has a lot of time for work. He works on Sundays too. Work has become a habit for him.

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41 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Bill Farley

    What a condescending bunch of BS seen thru the eyes of American capitalism. China only began to flourish when the government allowed private enterprise to flourish??? Give your head a shake America. The Chinese have been excellent business people for centuries regardless who was in power. You think those "Boat People" who fled Vietnam were Vietnamese? Most of them were second and third generation Chinese who controlled 99% of all businesses in Vietnam. They were getting the hell out because they knew their time had come. And the assumption that China's new wealth was limited only because their government controlled a large portion of the economy??? C'mon America, better take a look at your own situation. From where I sit your country is fast going down the tubes and you guys live and breath private enterprise.

  2. james

    i dont often comment on topdocs but that son of a bitch calling is workers idiots.
    he want knocking out, the silly little dog touching bastard

  3. i_drink_Scope

    my favourite part of this doc is exactly @40:00

    the sales associate at Estrada is visibly picking her nose behind the counter. a place where dresses are sold for $1000USD. i'll bet a lot of customers just say "keep the change" to her...

    why are Chinese people such disgusting pigs???

    1. Tan Wa

      What an uneducated comment - it's like saying Americans are killers because their government drops bombs all over the world.

    2. Cupid Stunt

      ummm Americans ARE killers. And it's obvious that you know it too! No other nation has gone to war with more different countries than the U.S.A.

    3. Tan Wa

      It's wrong to blame an action of a government or a group on all its citizens. This is exactly the ideology so many governments and terrorist groups are using to spread terror and propaganda

    4. i_drink_Scope

      i'm clearly having a conversation with an uneducated person who can not think for herself. good luck with the upcoming challenge that you will have getting through life...

  4. BattoRem

    I love it when people say how awful the system is but refuse to give an ideas on how to change it. Just more meaningless words.

    1. a_no_n

      so unless you can design a completely new system from the ground up you have no valid opinion?

    2. BattoRem

      Just out of curiosity what kind of system would you build?

    3. a_no_n

      I wouldn't...Mostly because it doesn't matter what kind of system you build, they all end up the same way, with elite aristocratic families buying their way to the top.

      Also to create a new system, you first have to literally burn down the old one, you can't just enforce a new system like that...not without a bit of bloodshed first.

      I wouldn't argue for a system i would argue for a safeguard like evidence based policy making instead of ideological based.

      anything that removes ideology from being a primary political consideration can only be a good thing as far as i can see, and would do a lot to clean up the sham of a democracy that most of us are working with at the moment.

  5. Richard Neva

    As China rises America falls into hell!

  6. StockyOne

    A superb documentary. Very balanced, and with a very interesting cross-section of people presented.

  7. ksm_mmd

    Okay, out of pure disgust, I had to stop watching after only 9 minutes. That was more than enough time to realize that "successful" businessmen in China are no different than anywhere else in the world: virtually all of them are nothing more than a bunch of narcissistic psychopaths. Corporations reward psychopathic behavior, so it's not surprising that people who are completely incapable of compassion or empathy are the ones who excel in such a world.

    The piece-of-sh** Zuo, who owns Zonchin (sp?) Motorcycle Group, is a perfect example. Even though it's obvious that he possess no more than average intelligence, his baseless disdain for his employees (the people that have made him rich) and his eagerness to blame them for everything that doesn't go his way is an all too familiar "management" technique employed here in the United States, as well as in similar corporate environments elsewhere around the world.

    1. BattoRem

      He may not be a decent human being but you have to admit a lot of people have benefited from him. Like the family presented in the video.

      What is wrong with him having an average intelligence? Can only smart people be successful? I hope that is not what you meant.


    1.3 billion people in China alone and a City with 7 million and one i*iot with a manson of 23 bedroom and he lives alone there the only way I' see this unbalanced world will tear itself apart and will collapse

  9. ronsfi

    2000000 lifted out of poverty? I would like to see that standard of poverty applied to the west. What a cry and hue! Bah. That was desperate poverty. Bull shid propaganda.

    1. mike jarvis

      2 million more to live the unrealized capitalist dreams of 90 percent of the united states. while at the same time poisoning the crap out of their country's environment.GO CHINA! GO INDIA! GO AFRICA! GO SOUTH AMERICA! and dont forget who started it all...{GO USA....!(as if we deserve it..)...the MOST wasteful country in the world.}

    2. disqus_KaGdwj0Fv8

      wasteful yes, capitalist, no. America has not been a capitalist country for awhile now so the fact that we are becoming less prosperous as we become more socialist is not surprising at all.

    3. Jesse Garza

      complete and utter b.s.

    4. Byron Adams

      if we were socialist we wouldn't be seeing the biggest wealth gap in the history of this nation....

    5. Urban dweller

      Reply to disqus: America is becoming PURE capitalist - for some! We were once a democracy - for some. We are a "for some" nation just like China is becoming. Ha-ha!

  10. bringmeredwine

    Watching this doc, I met some very interesting and worthwhile people, except for the first man, who was a pompous a$$hol@ in my opinion.
    It was heartwarming, (for me) to meet the young worker who dreams of becoming a doctor; the lawyer who crusaded for disabled factory workers; and the man who amassed a fortune creating non-polluting A.C.'s. He also happens to grows organic food for himself and his employees. What an interesting man!
    I am really enjoying this series.

    1. systems1000

      sometime times fairy tails come true,but for how long.

    2. bringmeredwine

      Yeah, I know what you mean; but if everyone simply gave up, where would we be?

    3. i_drink_Scope

      you didn't meet any of them. you are delusional...

    4. bringmeredwine

      It's an expression lol. You took my words too literally.

  11. systems1000

    this doc is about an unstainable third world walmart.And with all the millions who are being swept under its rug,its only a matter of time before the whole thing comes crashing down.

    1. Enzu

      Same as contemporary U,S. then?

    2. pwndecaf

      Zing! Good one. I wonder how their 99% will take to the changes.

    3. Jason reek

      We don't need any more contemporary U.S. systems or similar systems in the world; it is just too wasteful. You cannot live on exponential gain when there is a finite amount of things to gain. It just insures that someone somewhere gets the short end of the stick.

    4. Enzu


      In order to be rich (material-wise), someone has to be poor naturally.

      Since (in my opinion) human kind are greedy by nature, (there are exceptions, but very few) the big question is how we as a species will be able to survive, long-term, without destroying ourselves.

      My predictions are unfortunatelly bleek, but i hope we can find some system that will work.

      DonĀ“t want to be pessimistic about it, but i owe it to myself to atleast be realistic about it...

    5. Vinnie Chavez

      Human kind are not greedy. People show them how to be greedy it is a learn behavior? By Gov education schools? Or the big TV!!!!!!

    6. disqus_KaGdwj0Fv8

      The first part of your statement is highly erroneous in that the concept of capitalism and indeed what made America great to begin with was the opportunity for anyone to achieve more material wise while unknowingly assisting their neighbors, trade partners and even competitors in raising their own amounts of wealth. That is the beauty of Adam smiths invisible hand or also known as the entrepreneurial sprit.

    7. Tran Anh Nguyen

      well the state did a good work on capitalism all the world over ( mostly thier bank) but at the end of the day u could see that they were just manipulating you to get what they wanted.

    8. systems1000

      insect colonies don,t need gasoline to survive,other then that theres not much difference.And the clock is running out with no more time outs.

    9. The unfolding pattern of the W

      Do you want China to fall? Something about a thriving non-western society give you bad dreams?

    10. systems1000

      with out solid trade unions the law of Kumbaya has a shelf life of about 12 seconds..

    11. The unfolding pattern of the W

      LOL...You did not answer my question, system1000.

      I think unions are not the answer. It is not going to work, and the trend of capitalism is more efficient use of capital, and technology will mean there is less need for brute labors.

    12. systems1000

      insect colonies have proven to be the most effective,sustainable forms of government.Is that what human beings should strive for,to become cockroaches or fire ants?lol.

    13. disqus_KaGdwj0Fv8

      Right, look at Detroit to see all the good unions do...