DISCOVERY CHANNEL PRESENTS A LOOK AT MODERN DAY CHINA IN KOPPEL ON DISCOVERY: THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CAPITALISM
-- Koppel: �Both in the reporting and the presentation, this is the most extensive project I've ever undertaken.' --
SILVER SPRING, Md., June 10, 2008 � In the wake of the catastrophic earthquake in Sichuan province and on the eve of the Beijing Olympics, Discovery Channel presents a sweeping four-part series examining contemporary China. In each hour-long program, Managing Editor Ted Koppel and his team of producers explore America's economic relationship with China as well as capitalism's effect on the Chinese people. KOPPEL ON DISCOVERY: THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CAPITALISM premieres on Discovery Channel Wednesday July 9 at 10 PM (ET/PT) and continues for the next three nights at 10 PM through Saturday, July 12.
"The U.S. would have an easier time disentangling itself from Germany or France than from the Chinese. In fact, as one Chinese billionaire told me, 'China is the most business-friendly government in the world.' The kicker is, he's probably right. Chinese and American businesses are taking full advantage of it, and you have to wonder how either country would get along without the other," explained Koppel.
KOPPEL ON DISCOVERY: THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CAPITALISM is one year in the making and was filmed almost entirely in the southwestern industrial hub of Chongqing. The series explores the following topics:
PART 1 / JOINED AT THE HIP � Wednesday, July 9 @ 10 PM
The American and Chinese economies are irreversibly intertwined. The common complaint that the Chinese are taking jobs away from American workers is in many cases true. China's cheap and abundant labor attracts manufacturing from all over the world. Still, American economists estimate that the U.S. is as much as $70 billion richer each year because of its relationship with China�something must be going right. Wal-Mart, America's largest retailer, is able to maintain low prices in part because of cheap Chinese labor. And when Apple sells a $299 iPod (designed in California and assembled in China), the American computer company makes an $80 profit while the Chinese assembly plant makes just $4. PART 1 traces the interconnected web of US/China trade, from Mexican migrant workers in North Carolina to a Chongqing teenager working on a boombox assembly line; quality control inspectors at Ethan Allen to a Chinese homemaker shopping at Wal-Mart in Chongqing; and laid-off workers from Briggs & Stratton's Rolla, Missouri plant to the American who runs the Briggs & Stratton plant in Chongqing.
PART 2 / MAOism TO MEism � Thursday, July 10 @ 10 PM
Chongqing is a city of 13.5 million people�it could be the most populous city that most Americans have never heard of. The largest migration in human history is underway as millions of peasants are on the move from China's countryside to its booming industrialized cities. The central government has plans to increase Chongqing's population to 20 million. This population redistribution, combined with the emergence of capitalism, is having a dramatic effect on Chinese culture. PART 2 profiles a cast of characters in and around Chongqing to examine the central issues of traditional values, religion, sexuality, and political freedom.
PART 3 / THE FAST LANE � Friday, July 11 @10 PM
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.
PART 4 / IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID - Saturday, July 12 @ 10 PM
China has lifted 300 million people out of poverty in less than a generation. It's a remarkable feat, but one that has had profound and often harmful consequences. In PART 4, Koppel looks at the downsides of a booming economy. Pollution is one of the biggest problems. China powers its economy primarily with coal, a dirty fuel that blackens its skies and cities. Ted Koppel descends 1000 feet into a coal mine to show viewers the work and danger that is involved in relying on coal to fuel the country's industries. With increased investment in infrastructure and new business, corruption is an escalating problem that costs China billions of dollars a year. Koppel explains what its government is doing to stamp it out. Finally, PART 4 examines the thorny issue of human rights and how China's economy continues to thrive despite the suppression of free speech and the iron fist of the Communist party. Capitalism after all, is merely an economic system. While China has wholeheartedly embraced a capitalist economy, it still governs its people with communism's authoritarian rule.
KOPPEL ON DISCOVERY: THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CAPITALISM is dedicated to associate producer John Alexander, who died suddenly at age 26 in Chongqing while working on the series. PART 4 concludes with a tribute to John.
Previous KOPPEL ON DISCOVERY broadcasts include THE PRICE OF SECURITY, LIVING WITH CANCER, OUR CHILDREN'S CHILDREN'S WAR, BREAKING POINT and IRAN: THE MOST DANGEROUS NATION, which received an Emmy award.
KOPPEL ON DISCOVERY: THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CAPITALISM is produced by Discovery Channel Managing Editor Ted Koppel and Executive Producer Tom Bettag.
They are joined by a team of some of the best researchers and producers in the industry. Together they are producing a slate of long-form programming exclusively for Discovery Channel that touches on some of the most important events, people and places changing lives today. From field reporting to script writing, every aspect of the series is shaped by Koppel's 45 years of experience and unparalleled journalistic integrity.
About Discovery Communications
Discovery Communications is the world's number-one nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in over 170 countries. Discovery empowers people to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity through 100-plus worldwide networks, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel, Planet Green, Investigation Discovery and HD Theater, as well as leading consumer and educational products and services, and a diversified portfolio of digital media services including HowStuffWorks.com. Discovery Communications is owned by Discovery Holding Company (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB), Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S. Hendricks, Discovery's founder and chairman. For more information, please visit www.discoverycommunications.com.