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Ted Koppel and Charlie Rose On the People’s Republic of Capitalism

Ted Koppel interview with Charlie Rose is now up. Sweet. Check it.

Last night I watched the second installment of The People’s Republic of Capitalism – Ted Koppel’s documentary on how capitalism and globalization is changing the economic and cultural landscape of the People’s Republic of China. Part 2 was all about the cultural changes in China due to its unprecedented rapid economic growth — from MAOism to MEism (see teaser trailer). This documentary focused on people and their experiences in the midst of China’s economic boom (similar to FRONTLINE: China in the Red documentary). In this program Koppel takes the viewers on a cultural tour around the city of Chongqing (“a city of 13.5 million people — it could be the most populous city that most Americans have never heard of”). Koppel showed the growing cultural tension in China due to mass migration to urban areas and the clashing of traditional and new values, brought about by China’s embrace of Western capitalism.

The documentary is very objective, and insightful. I learned new things about China I don’t typically learn from reading news articles and mainstream news media. Koppel’s documentary also adds to the thesis of  “the rise of the rest” in a post-American world — a thesis that is eloquently argued by Fareed Zakaria in his latest book, The Post-American World. Based on what I’ve read from the book and from watching this documentary, it looks like Zakaria’s analysis is spot on. So if you’re interested with geopolitics, check out Koppel’s documentary and supplement it with Zakaria’s book.

I’m looking forward to the next installment of the People’s Republic of Capitalism. Part 3 airs tonight. It’s about China’s fascination with American cars. Here’s the trailer and the blurb:

“China’s streets have gone from being jammed with bicycles to being
jammed with cars. The nation is adding 25,000 new vehicles to its roads
every day — that’s more than 9 million a year — and the government is
building tens of thousands of miles of new highways. As millions of new
drivers hit the road, this newfound freedom is bringing more accidents,
more traffic and more pollution.

“China will soon become the world’s largest producer of cars as well as
the biggest market for new cars. Foreign automakers like GM and Ford
are already enjoying huge success in China — today, more Buicks are
sold in China than in the U.S. Meanwhile, Chinese automakers are
planning an assault on the U.S. market with low-cost cars and they hope
to be in American showrooms as early as next year.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Heh, more on my favorite subject… I’ve heard that the Ted Koppel series is pretty good, and would view it if only I had access to international cable. ;)

    A few comments:
    “In this program Koppel takes the viewers on a cultural tour around the city of Chongqing (“a city of 13.5 million people — it could be the most populous city that most Americans have never heard of”).”

    Well, they often have, but they’ve heard it called by the Wade-Gilles version of the name- Chungking- which they’ve seen on labels in their grocery store. They have no idea that it’s a huge metropolis which is better known for Sichuan style Hotpot and Kung Pao Chicken than for bland, canned Americanized cantonese cuisine. The real megacity that no one in America (who doesn’t read the financial pages, that is) has heard of is Shenzhen, which I hadn’t even heard of until around this time last year, and which hardly even existed in the year I was born (1982)… they’ve built it into a metropolis bigger than New York in my lifetime. It’s absolutely mindblowing.

    I just spent the weekend in a city called Jiaxing. Never heard of Jiaxing? I hadn’t until a month ago.

    It’s a half-hour from Shanghai by bullet train- and it’s the size of Seattle. Metro Seattle.

    All around the Hangzhou bay, there are cities which dwarf the great cities of America, but are “minor” by Chinese standards… Ningbo (5.5 million), Shaoxing (4 million), Hangzhou (6.6 million), Suzhou (4 million), Jiaxing (3.3 million)… all crowned by Shanghai (20+ million, but who is really counting, anyway).

    As for China’s carmakers… well, I wouldn’t bet on any that aren’t being sold through a joint venture to make any traction in America, and even those will be few and far between- building quality cars (emphasis on quality) and shipping them from China to America just isn’t economical, and the indigenous car manufacturers know that they don’t have what it takes to make it in the US market, so are focusing on the developing world.

    If the Chinese want to break into the American market, they’re going to have to do it the way the Japanese did- offer something that the other manufacturers aren’t. If I was in charge of Chery, FAW, Dongfeng, Geely Brilliance, or any of the other major Chinese car factories, I’d be on the horn to Elon Musk ASAP to strike a licensing deal… a chinese electric commuter car could easily become hotter than the Prius.

    Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 5:40 am #
  2. ~C4Chaos wrote::

    Nick, thanks again for adding your first-hand accounts on China. are you blogging your adventures somewhere? would be cool to follow your insights on China as you go along your travels.

    “a chinese electric commuter car could easily become hotter than the Prius.”

    exactly :) we’ll see.

    ~C

    Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 3:00 pm #
  3. Not yet; I don’t do personal blogging anymore. I have registered http://www.buildingshanghai.net however, and will be putting up a blog soon- it’s going to be devoted to architecture, planning, ecology and economics in Shanghai (and China at large)… it should be up and running in the next few weeks. Be on the lookout. ;)

    Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 9:42 pm #