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join the discussion: What are your thoughts on the vast economic and social changes sweeping China, as it transforms itself from a  rigid communist society to an exploding market economy?

Update on helping people featured in this film:
Over recent months Hong Huanzhen's condition has greatly deteriorated. Thanks to the generosity of viewers, producer Sue Williams and colleagues have helped get Hong into the critical care ward of one of the best hospitals in the provincial capital city of Xian and Hong now is being monitored by a top diabetes specialist.

Everyone at the hospital knows that Hong's care is being paid for by Americans who learned about her story through the program "China in the Red."

Donations are still needed for Hong's health care and also to help send Hong's daughter back to school.

A special account has been set up with The Relief Trust of Boston, a non-profit organization run by professionals to help health and education projects in developing countries. All donations will go directly to Hong's care.

If you are interested in helping, please send your check to:

338 Rosemary Street,
Needham, MA 02494

Please make the checks out to Ambrica Productions and be sure to specify on the check who the recipient should be.


I am from India and what is happening in China is happening in India also. I was quite moved by the program. I personally can relate to part of it -- like having a parent in public sector enterprise, economic squeeze etc. Once you emerge out of it life seems great but I remember all the terrible times that we faced.

I cant help comparing my experience in India with what you have shown. While there is an economic squeeze esp after 1991 when India was about to default on payments, it (the squeeze) is for some reason not as dramatic or sudden. I kept wondering why it is so or if my sampling is not representative and something is actually happening.

At some other level, I am afraid to ask the question of what is in store for future? Are economists getting it right? Is the progress sustainable?

Venkata Pingali
los angeles, ca


I watched CHINA IN RED last night. I like it because it told a true story of China. It's candid, unbiased. I'm from the country side of China.

I went to university in a big city --Wuhan, central China. Now I'm studying here in USA for aPhD.I have experienced both the life in the poor countryside and in the good life in city. I can feel that the big gap between the poor and the rich is increasing. That what I'm always worrying about my home country. This is cruel fact. If we cannot face it and solve it in time, I'm really afraid of the explosive reaction will come some day. and no people can enjoy their happy life anymore. We wish our government can cope with it correctly.

Other wise.... I heard from many people that China is now sitting on a crate of active vocalo. See the behavior of those officials like MAYOR MU? They can pretend to care about those laid-offs while taking millions of bribe and kick-bakcs. Yes, Corruption is the root of many problems, but the root of corruption is (like what the taxi diver said) the political System. Yes, if you wipe out corruption, you also wipe out the party.

fenny li
columbia, sc


Thanks for your great program. I've been in the states since 97 until I came back to China last November for a supposedly 'short visit' and found myself stuck here because of enhanced visa scrutiny.

So I am currently in China and did find a netbar with access to your site, together with access to WSJ,NYT,NPR and CNN. Although I've talked to many of my high school and university classmates and friends, I found I was in a 'Chinese middle class circle' that everyone shared same 'middle class ideals' and had a somewhat similiar life style.

For example, everyone of my old friends has either bought an apartment or is considering buying one, either bought a car or is considering. We had some great fun discussing the new car models. They are full of hope for a better life based on hard and professional work. The 'sad' part about a middle class life is that, it has kind of a predictable track, a carreer path, although it might be just too early for my classmates to start their own businesses...

I found that your program viewed online here offered a more complete view of the people, the laid-offs, the migrant workers, and the fighting 40 and 50 somethings. Sadly, I found myself with very little contact with these people, as did my friends.

Which leads to the next thing, the social separation and isolation if I may call it that, of the people. Some of my friends in China seemed too busy archieving themselves and enjoying both the process and the outcome, and not to want to bother with the problems of the SOE laid-offs and migrant workers at all, or the 'democracy problem'. Everyone knows it's something must be done, but no one bothered how, when and what exactly. (I do believe China will end up as a democratic country just as Taiwan did, not only because it's good, but also because it's a system that simply works. Taiwan and Hongkong have offered China invaluable small-scaled reform experiences, both economically and politically.)

pittsburgh, pa


I am responding to the viewer who posted the following in his comment elsewhere in this discussion section:

"...the cadre says he lives in a place of only 600 "pingmi" (square METERS!, which is huge by Chinese standard), yet the English voiceover makes it "600 square FEET!!. Mistakes such as this permeates the documentary and I don't think it's just linguistic incompetence."

I can say for sure that PBS is not guilty of mistranslation. You are obviously not familiar with either the Beijing dialect or the housing conditions there. As someone who knows both, I can assure you and all other viewers, the workshop director said his apartment was 60 square meters, which is obviously true considering his status, the cost of the apartment, and how much space we have seen from the video.

Wei Han
storrs, ct


China in Red is the best documentary about China I have ever seen!

And I also found the discussion about "democracy" by four China-experts on this web site very open-minded. Unlike many other biased American media and politicians, this documentary, as well as some of the China experts' viewpoints deal with the concerns of a majority of Chinese.

Thanks again for Frontline bringing an objective viewpoint about China to people of the other part of the world!

M Zhang
austin, tx


You guys have started to put streaming video of the programs. I don't always have time every Thursday to watch, but now I can watch them whenever.! Great idea. Please expand the capacity however, it's hard sometimes to access the videos. Thanks!

Arthur Kao
new haven, ct


After watching the program from TV and watching it again on the website, I feel very emotional and heart-breaking.

China's social economic transformation has made a big gap between the rich and poor. The rich is gettting richer and poor is even more poorer. Millions and millions of people in china are now struggling for survive for just basic food, health care.

The political and health care reform and the coruption issue is still a long way to go for the china government to prefect it. This 2 hour documentary, is just tip of iceberg.

When one day we look back in time, the social economic reform in china might be a price too high to pay.

on, vou


I watched this program online several times. I was really moved.

China is experiencing vast and dramatic changes. This program provides a view of china more comprehensive than any other that I've seen. It tells Americans what's going on in China. It reminds Chinese of things constantly being ignored by them. Wonderful Piece.

It's pretty sad to see those peasants and workers, who had benefited from the reform, fell back into poverty again. Some of them are just so desperate and hopeless. Something is definitely wrong with the reform. Something is definitely missing.

For Chinese people, it's not a time for us to point fingers to each other. Be constructive. Endurance and survival are inherent characters of our people, and we'll make it. It's just how fast, how much pain.

charlotte, nc


A question: how long will this full program be available online on your site?

Joyce Wang
durham, nc

FRONTLINE's editors respond:


Wonderful work. I watched it online. I forced my 14-year-old daughter watching it.

I wish to see more programs like this. Thank you.

Simon Zhao
hacienda heights, ca


You cannot imagine how many overseas Chinese students are talking about "China in the Red" on the Internet these days.

It is one of the best programs I have ever seen. I heard of it from my Chinese roommate.

Thank you very much for introducing a real China to American people. I was born in a prosperous southern city in China and my family has never had big suffering. But I did visit a poor village in Northern China as a volunteer when I was in college. What you showed in the movie is exactly what I saw in that village. I have witnesses too many similar cases both in cities and in the countryside in China. People are struggling for a better life when the country is experiencing such an enormous and fast change that is quite beyond a lot of American people's imagination.

I love my country. I wish one day, after finishing the study in the US, I could go back to China and do my own job to help those suffering people to get out of the troubles and make everyone have a hope. As Mr. He, the economist, said in the film, I wish I would be able to see a democratic, civilized and prosperous China in my life.

A little suggestion: would it be possible for you to make a Chinese version for it? People in China will be very interested in watching the film if it can be sent back to China in some way.

Marshall Yuan
durham, nc


I was really moved by the program, which reflected the truely current China, with a huge number of people living in rural area heavily exploited by all classes above them, with millions of workers having futureless life after devoted all their youth energy to the state factories.

As a grad student from China, my dad and mom all worked in state factores for their all life and now have a mere life. I personally know lots of childern who left home to cities only to end up with poignant exploitation. Your program bring my heart to China, which I love deeply.

Thank you for your effort to let the people here know what is happening in China, neither (communism) hell nor heaven.

vancouver, bc, canada


We were surprised and moved by the program. Surprised because even though we are mass consumers of television and print news we really have no idea what life is like for the modern Chinese people. And moved to learn the real lives of people in China are so much like our own.

We would appreciate any information that you can post about the woman in Chestnut Flower Village with the thyroid problem. This really affected us. Everyone needs help at some time in their lives and I hope we can send something to help this family.

Tommy & Arika Palladino
minneapolis, mn

FRONTLINE's editors respond:
Producer Sue Williams writes:

I am touched and thrilled that viewers want to help some of the people in our film. In response to these offers, in a few days we will be setting up a special account where people will be able to send their donations and will provide the information here on this web site.

Unfortunately, one can't just send Hong Huanzhen and Zhang Shuyan money - they have no bank account, could not cash US Dollars, and to make matters more difficult Hong Huanzhen cannot read or write and lives far from a bank. We want to make sure that the money actually gets to her and the others people want to help. So in a few weeks we will make a short trip to China to arrange for them to get the money and then to be able to continue to receive funds from an account here.

Our goal is to be able to pay off Hong's debts, allow her to get consistent healthcare and send her daughter back to school, probably to a three-year vocational training course. We would also like to pay for Zhang's daughter to continue her education. She wants to be a nurse.


I would like to congratulate Ms. Sue William, her colleagues, and PBS FRONTLINE for this triumphal documentary China in the Red.

I hope more Mainland Chinese, not only Americans, will have the chance to see this program on your website, one day.

As a Taiwanese Chinese American, I have witnessed some of the similar problems facing todays China the way they challenged Taiwanese people years ago. Mainly the transformation from a society ruled by an authoritarian regime to a civil society of Constitutional Democracy and rule of law; after all, both societies across the strait are deeply rooted in Chinese cultures and traditions (both good and not-so-good parts of Chinese culture).

Taiwans successful transformation might have two advantages that China did not have: (1) Taiwan never had Communism implemented in the first place; (2) Taiwans authoritarian regime, KMT, endorsed general principles of Constitutional Democracy, at least in public, that few Taiwanese people ever doubt the validity of a democratic civil society.

Without the advantages that Taiwan enjoyed, can China succeed in transforming? Personally, I am cautiously optimistic because of one powerful incentive Chinese peoples desire and hunger to have a better life, if not for themselves, at least for their children. In the dire situation brought by economic changes, one Chinese mother expressed: "My life doesn't matter," says Zhang, through tears. "My only hope is that my daughter can go to college and live a good life."

Steven Chen
nyc, ny


Awesome, awesome, awesome. I am an Arizona Junior high history teacher and I must reference China's modern system frequently.

How cool to see the truth. My hundred students will be amazed. I used to teach them about the 2-child system. I can't wait to tell them about China's one-child policy that can be bought-off with money and connections. How insane our planet and it's cultures seem to us lucky Americans. And then the corrupt mayor who got the death penalty...how do I teach about that? If you think about it, there's arguments for both sides on that one.

Because of Frontline, I feel a duty to become a contributor to PBS.

Gary Fohs
bullhead city, arizona


Thank you Frontline and the producers for a well-done documentary on China in the reform era. While much English material has been written about the numerous and daunting challenges facing modern China, it's nice to see a high-profile TV program covering the issue and lending a sense of immediacy to the problems by presenting the lives of ordinary Chinese citizens bearing the social cost of these reforms.

Several segments had personal relevance (my grandma is a retired Capital Steel manager and an uncle former VP of a Shenyang SOE involved in the corruption scandal - and briefly shown in the program). Those portrayals were poignant because of their familiarity and accuracy. And precisely because of the documentary's faithful reflection of the current Chinese society on a human level, I hope it will give American audiences a better understanding to address any doubts, pessimism or impatience toward China's reform programs. Mainly, that while external and internal pressures applied toward China to accelerate its economic and political reforms is needed, there is a very real, and often prohibitive, cost in implementing them: harsh social and economic instability on the very people portrayed in the program - magnified in the hundreds of millions.

But above all else I hope programs like these and China's increasing presence in the media will help inspire us ("generation Y" oversea Chinese and ABCs) to channel our youth and energy to contribute and shape China's critical transition to a more liberal society. I sincerely believe that we have something unique and necessary to offer - especially in the area of better Sino-US relations.

Oh, and kudos on the soundtrack. Cui Jian for urbanites, Tian Zhen for rural farmers and Faye Wang for white-collar yuppies. Very impressive selections.

Brian Zhang
la, ca



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