Young And Restless In China

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What's your story? Have you done business in China, or traveled/lived there? Do the stories told in this film resonate with your experience of the new Chinese generation that is coming of age?


This was an absolutely fantastic and eye-opening documentary. I am a 16-year-old Chinese-American residing in Pennsylvania, and oftentimes, I feel extremely disconnected from the Chinese culture and the happenings in China. I believe that my generation in America takes most things for granted, most importantly our personal freedoms that are, as the documentary showed, still lacking in China. Most of all, I just feel like this documentary has rekindled my bond with China (not to mention I absolutely loved every single one of the people in it!).

Thank you so much for making this amazing documentary - it documented China through such an extremely honest and gratifying lens; something that I feel like isn't done very often in the Western world.

Jonathan Yuan
Breinigsville, Pennsylvania


Nin Hao,

I was just in China in April of this year and your Frontline dealt with the culture accurately.

The people of China are fiercely proud of their country. Their goals are lofty and will be matched by their hardwork and dedication to education. They care about the environment and will find their way to becoming a super power.

A smile goes along way in China.

Tony Kurnick
Strongsville, Ohio


This is a rare piece where a more real China is portrayed in front of the western audience. The gap between what China is and what China is perceived by most Americans is really huge. But China is moving so fast, and even people like me who grew up there and visit frequently can't catch up. We need more subjective portraits like this program to close that gap. Keep it up.

One interesting portrait missing is the government civil servants. There are many young and ambitious Chinese choose to join the Communist Party and become part of the government, believing in the system and their ability to change the country as much as the entrepreneurs or activists do. Many western educated returnees are also choosing this career path. Their stories are as intriguing and touching as the nine.

Geja Lu
Toronto, Ontario


Another great film on China by Sue Williams! Because the breadth of profiles in this piece is less inclusive than "China in the Red," it is (ever so slightly) less captivating.

Nevertheless, it is a wonderful and instructive piece on the generation that has and will continue to place China on the map for the next 100 years.

Based on my contacts and dealings with Mainland Chinese lately, I had not been sanguine about the country's social and cultural development. Your program proffers some hope: It was refreshing and consoling to hear young Chinese raising issues of social ethics and public morality.

As always, many thanks!

B. G. Phan
Los Angeles, CA


Your "Young & Restless in China" was fascinating for many reasons, but it was the music that really made me look at the web page at

These pieces absolutely should be in a compilation CD available to the public during this Olympics year. Such a CD could be one of the incentive gifts for donors during PBS fund raisers. Great stuff.

Greg Seegers
Dallas, TX


Great job! In 1981 I led a student tour of the country with groups from two American universities on the east coast and two on the west coast.

I still can't believe how quickly China made the leap from a third world nation into the twenty-first century. Positively amazing.

JM Miller
Erie, PA


"Young and Restless" was truly impressive for the story, the "case histories," and the visuals.

The individuals who were wrestling with the materialism that seemed to gnaw at some of them evoked feelings of sorrow within me.

But the families that showed love for each other struck a chord with me.

Toledo, Ohio


I was especially moved by the young DJ / rapper, XIAOLEI, who was duped by the girl online. It was important to see the creative element rise in Beijing.

It seemed to me, the most important line of this documentary came from the young lawyer, who said, I'd like to think what I am doing is kindling a fire. It was a wonderful moment of clarity in the film.

Thank you for airing it.

Jill Yamasawa
Honolulu, HI


What a fascinating look into the modern lives of the young Chinese people. I have been intrigued with China for years and was able to spend time there and in Hong Kong a while back. It would be best for America to try and understand the culture and not fear it or despise it. They are a powerful people - intelligent, hard working and ambitious.

Unless we focus our attention in the US on higher education for our youth and encouraging high work ethics, we will suffer as a nation in the global market.

Jo Ann Whirledge


After wathched the film last night I had to wake up my husband to talk about it. I can't belive such changes of China! I LOVE the Internet Cafe Owner's solar energy idea. I feel like I am one of them. I came to the states 12 years ago. I've been always wanting to go back to China to do business or travel. But the old tradition, politics and corruptions stop me even try to work for Chinese companies in the U.S.

I admire every each one of the young people in the film and millions people in China who are tring their best to presume personal dreams and happiness in their lifes. It's a truely wonderful program hope to see more films like this one just talking about real people real China.Thank You!!


kao Wang
Nanuet, NY


This very imaginative documentary/reality Tv has the very eerie feel of "The Lives of Others" - which is about spying on an enslaved people just before "The Wall" came tumbling down. Many vivid scenes of young people enjoying the great thrills of avoiding the restrictive Old Guard. We're spying on them like the Stasi, pressing the erase button constantly - and hope to god the authorities aren't watching too. Very hard to negate creative young people.

Greg K
Buffalo, NY


Like the environmental lawyer in your program, I was also a student demonstrating against corruption and demanding freedom in 1989. I identify with her ethos profoundly.

There is no question now where China is heading economically. There is still a great deal of uncertainty where China is heading as to how its society is governed and managed. If China is to have any long-term future, it has to become a more just and humane society.

Ordinary Chinese citizens must be given the responsibility to participate in making the decisions that will affect their lives. The progress to make China a more democratic country will be one of the most profound events in this century.

Best wishes to the nine young people in your program.

David Zheng
Salt Lake City, Utah


Everytime I think Frontline has produced the "best" documentary, I tune in and see another one even more profound.

"Young and Restless in China" wasn't only a powerful and varied look at the rising profile of China, but also it was artistically filmed. There is another look at China in June "Fast Company" which viewers might want to read in tandem with the thinking they are doing as a result of this fine reporting. Thank you!

Jean Silvernail
Pittsburgh, PA


Kudos to you for capturing in word and picture the exact restlessness I see in China daily. I have been living here for three years, and I've tried to communicate this massively growing anxiety that I sense from not just the young, but the old here, as well. I used to misname it "synergy", but then my Chinese friends explained to me the feeling they live with is our word "restless" -- so the name you chose is spot on.

I noticed another viewer expressed a desire to see those who have benefited from the economic boom -- that would have been a good idea, because I can assure you they are restless too (and oftentimes young -- and USD millionaires already). But your team had no way of knowing the paths of the people you chose to follow in 2004, so a job well done for finding those who do represent well the strata of society here.

Additionally, the documentary hints at this, but I've learned from my Chinese friends that monetary success in China directly effects respect. That means their pursuit is a little differently motivated than that of Americans pursuing the American Dream, where a vague concept of "freedom" would be a part of the Americans' pursuit. In China, I've been told that "security for the future" and "respect" are far more important than a concept of "freedom."

Anyway, excellent editing, post-production, and music.

Steven Weathers
Shanghai, China


I have read with great interest the near universal accolades expressed by your viewers; however, from my limited experience with Chinese citizens, I could not help but feel that the documentary skewed too darkly, portraying only individuals seemingly outside of the mainstream of China's economic success. While their lives may be of interest and perhaps fairly presented, they do not necessarily represent the totality of China's youth, many of whom still possess rampant optimism and unflagging loyalty to achieving to their respective dreams.

Richard Damrow
Appleton, WI


home . introduction . watch online . nine stories . where's china headed? . "I wanted music to play a big part in the film" .  listen to the music . join the discussion . teacher's guide . live chat with producer sue williams . site map . dvd + transcript . press reaction . credits . privacy policy . journalistic guidelines . FRONTLINE series home . wgbh . pbs

posted june 17, 2008

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