Democracy & Technology Blog China Revealed

Last night the Discovery Channel (no relation to the Discovery Institute) premiered a wonderful new documentary, “China Revealed.” Part of Discovery’s “Atlas” series, this two-hour program accurately conveys the traditions, diversity, dynamism, high-energy, and challenges of the largest and fastest changing nation on earth.
The cinematography is terrific, with sweeping landscapes and skylines, but equally as vivid are the personal stories: 12 year-old Jin Yang who hopes to compete for the Olympic gymnastics gold in 2008; Master Liu who presides over the famous Fa Wang martial arts monestary; Yang Fuxi, the last of 17 generations of Imperial bow (and arrow) makers; Song Feng, the migrant window washer of Shanghai skyscrapers; the rice farming Liao family; and Vincent Lo, the billionaire real estate developer.
Though the documentary focuses on people and places, it even gets the political and economic stories largely correct. The smiling Liao’s praise the 1978 privatization of land that increased their productivity some 1500% in just a few years. Mao’s brutality is also briefly but pointedly exposed.
Critics of the documentary will fairly complain that current contentious issues of religious, press, and political freedom are barely addressed, if at all. But there’s so much to talk about, so many stories to tell. This documentary tells some of these stories and tells them very well.
-Bret Swanson

Bret Swanson

Bret Swanson is a Senior Fellow at Seattle's Discovery Institute, where he researches technology and economics and contributes to the Disco-Tech blog. He is currently writing a book on the abundance of the world economy, focusing on the Chinese boom and developing a new concept linking economics and information theory. Swanson writes frequently for the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal on topics ranging from broadband communications to monetary policy.