China Week Preview

Tavis previews the upcoming, week-long series of shows exploring the People’s Republic of China.

Shot on location in Beijing and Shanghai, the series examines the growing superpower's economic and technology boom, its new breed of entrepreneurs and the country's environmental, social and educational challenges.

It will also offer a glimpse into the disparity between the wealthy and the migrant workers.

There are conversations with students at one of the top schools in Beijing and with an African American ex-pat, who dropped out of law school in North Carolina and is bringing hip-hop to China.

The week culminates with a panel discussion on China's place in the world and includes the current and immediate past chairs of the Committee of 100, Dominique Ng and John S. Chen, film producer Janet Yang and UCLA's associate dean of social science, Dr. Cindy Fan.

This unique series airs next week, Monday, July 11 through Friday, July 15.


Tavis: I hope you can join us starting this Monday for an entire week devoted to China. Recently I traveled to China with a camera crew and a group of colleagues including Princeton professor, Dr. Cornel West.

Over the course of the first four nights next week, we’ll look at the issues and the challenges facing China and the ideas and people who will shape China for the rest of this century and beyond.

On Friday night of next week, we’ll convene a high-profile panel of Chinese-Americans for a conversation about China and its place in the world. Our guests on that panel include software magnate, John Chen of Sybase.

During our two weeks in China, we met and spoke with some extraordinary people, but probably the most moving encounter for Dr. West and yours truly was when we got a chance to meet migrant workers and their kids.

We hear a lot these days about the economic boom in China and, everywhere you look, you certainly see evidence of it. But China is not just a country of haves, but indeed a country of have-nots.

In this preview clip tonight, we’ll show you a visit to an elite school outside Shanghai that is now accepting some of the migrant workers’ brightest children as well, a visit that gave us a unique insight into how these families actually live.

[Showing Clip]

Tavis: In addition to academics, the school also focuses on dance and music and we were treated to some remarkable performances.

[Showing Clip]

Tavis: We wanted to see where these impressive students actually live. Just a few years ago, the Chinese government would never have let us take our cameras through a migrant workers compound, but some restrictions are indeed lifting. What Dr. West and I encountered was both unsettling and inspiring.

Spokesperson: Tavis, these houses are built by [inaudible] landlords. These are very minimal houses and then they rent them to the migrant workers.

Tavis: This is their home?

Spokesperson: This is their home.

Tavis: This room?

Spokesperson: He works in the crystal factory.

Tavis: He works in the crystal factory, but this is their home, this room?

Spokesperson: These are all his accomplishments. He gets a certificate, so these are his prizes that he’s won for his accomplishments at school, so this is a very proud product of his schooling.

Dr. Cornel West: This young brother here?

Spokesperson: Yes, right.

West: Yes, yes, yes.

Tavis: His accomplishments are the wallpaper.

Spokesperson: Right, exactly.

Tavis: His accomplishments are the wallpaper, decorating their one-room house with his accomplishments in school.

Spokesperson: Right.

Tavis: So I hope you’ll join us starting Monday for our weeklong look at China. You can’t pick up a newspaper or surf the net these days without seeing evidence of just how vital China is to the world’s present and future. Each night next week, we’ll explore the people and the issues facing this extraordinary nation.

That’s our show for tonight. We’ll see you back here next time for night one from China.

Narrator: Nationwide Insurance supports Tavis Smiley. With every question and every answer, Nationwide Insurance is proud to join Tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. Nationwide is on your side.

And by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you.

Last modified: July 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm