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Wednesday, July 09, 2008 12:53 AM

People's Republic of Capitalism

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A four part series on China hosted by Ted Koppel starts July 9th on the Discovery Channel. The series is called The People's Republic of Capitalism.

Part 1: Joined at the Hip — Wed., July 9, at 10 p.m. ET/PT

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 2: MAOism TO MEism — Thur., July 10, at 10 p.m. ET/PT

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. In this episode, we'll profile 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 — Fri., July 11, at 10 p.m. ET/PT

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 — Sat., July 12, at 10 p.m. ET/PT

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 this episode, we'll look 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 1,000 feet into a coal mine to show the work and danger involved in relying on coal to fuel the country's industries.
Koppel On Conan O'Brien

Koppel talks about part two recently on the Conan O'Brien Show:

"You have a country with 1.3 billion people. About a billion of those people live in abject poverty. But they have brought 300 million people out of poverty. That's a population, pretty much the size of the United States. The name of the game now is to bring the remaining billion out of poverty and they are going to be our competitors for oil, they are going to be our competitors for water."

"In bringing their people out of poverty they are creating a ton of pollution in the world. And they are saying to us, you had your industrial revolution and you did not care about any of those things. We have to do what we have to do to bring our people out of poverty."

Click here to see a video clip with Conan.

Parts towards the end are pretty funny. Koppel talks about signs in "Chingrish" and red light districts.

No Shortage Of Manual Labor

Click here to see Video Clip of People's Republic Of Construction.

The implications of China's growth as well as the massive amount of manual labor readily available are both going to have lasting effects on the Western world.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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