Journey Down the Yangtze

The recent Tibetan Uprising reminded the world of the fragility of China’s booming society and the force that can be unleashed upon its citizens. The world stood by and watched – power-less. Then China fought back – using nationalism to glue society together. It all appeared that the mass-persuasion mindset where millions can be mobilized is still strong and the days of direct action, reminiscent of Tiananmen ’89, are all but over. But to truly understand China, the saying goes, you should take a pulse from the nation’s main artery – ‘The Mother River’. We take a front-line investigative journey along the Yangtze to witness how China is beginning to fragment, and why rebellions are breaking out both among the Mao caps in rural areas but also among the white collars in the cities. Beginning in Tiger Leaping Gorge, in the upper reaches of the mighty river we explore the impact of the provinces rise to power – corruption is now so widespread that at any one time there are over 40,000 officials being tried in the courts. Onto Chengdu to observe how the people are taking to the streets – confronting the government and military head-on – increasingly being backed by an emerging Civil Society – NGO activists, cyber-dissidents and even lawyers – in Wuhan we meet one of the generals of the movement, an environmental lawyer who is hauling the government and state-owned industries through the courts. And finally to Shanghai where the educated, employed and media savvy new urban middle class are launching their own rebellion. Stability is the new watchword for the Communist Party and above all else, the leadership fear the wrath of the people, the very same “people” who Mao empowered and named the Republic after.

Part 1: Tiger Leaping Gorge: The Rise of the Provinces

Part 2: Chengdu: The People Fight back

Part 3: Wuhan: Rise of Civil Society

Part 4: Shanghai: White Collar Rebellion

Locations: China, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Nu Jiang, (Yunnan), Chengdu (Sichuan), Wuhan, Shanghai, Yangtze River.
Role: Correspondent, Producer, Director, Series Producer
TX: 1 X 42minutes: Al Jazeera English, People & Power May 2008
Distribution: Contact Oliver Steeds