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China: Triumph and Turmoil [DVD]

3.0 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Channel 4 DVD
  • DVD Release Date: 2 April 2012
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0078Z9JBG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,496 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Niall Ferguson travels through this vast country to ask how a fifth of humanity can live under a Communist system of government with what looks like a capitalist economy. He tracks down the people who can really explain the new China, from newly minted billionaires in China's megacities to survivors of the madness of Chairman Mao.

Travelling the length and breadth of the Middle Kingdom, he reveals the enduring importance of Confucian philosophy and imperial bureaucracy in the way that China works. But he is startled by the persistence of the Mao cult, despite all the millions of lives lost in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

Finally, after a visit to China's African empire, he answers the questions that should concern all of us: Will this turn out to be the Chinese century? Should we be scared? Or will the Red Dragon crash and burn?

Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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This is a glossy Niall Ferguson documentary which charts the economic situation in modern China in 3 perfect parts. It's got a catchy introduction and during the course of the programme covers the cultural changes undergone in China during the past few decades, interviewing unique individuals and visting places of political importance. It's a documentary for both experienced economists and beginners alike, with plenty of variety and really punchy issues. In fact, I didn't normally buy documentaries of this kind, but enjoyed this particular one so much that I actually went out of my way to order this DVD online.

Recommended for anyone who loves China or is concerned about the economy of the world in general. I'd also recommend it to motorcycle enthusiasts as there's a giant Ducati factory involved. Or to collectors of Niall Ferguson material (if there are any). Forget feature films - sometimes it's more exciting to get stuck into some real-life adventure!
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With its stellar economic rise since the death of Mao Zedong, more focus needs to be placed on the Chinese in order to understand the ascendant pre-eminent 21st Century World Power. Anyway, that is what the Chinese themselves believe.

The questions that require answers or at least some insights whether China will survive in its current form as an authoritarian state or whether the Chinese people will rebel in their quest for something more akin to Western values.

The first episode deals with the Communist Party's belief that to prevent the inevitable turmoil that is a consequence of change or reform, all such activities need to be severely repressed. Their treatment of the innocuous Falun Gong is a case in point. All forms of protest are treated as dissent & savagely repressed. In spite of a Capitalist economy, the political reins are tightly held by the Communist government. Niall Ferguson makes the analogue with ancient Chinese dynasties & emperors in that all held the same belief in rigid central control.

I found the second episode entitled Maostaliga eye opening. Despite Mao being the architect of two of the greatest disasters in world history let alone Chinese history, in the eyes of the Chinese public, no culpability resides with Mao himself. Collective amnesia about the turbulent past pervades the Chinese. Even though unspoken in the DVD, I wondered whether pervasive censorship & omnipresent propaganda has prevented the Chinese from obtaining a true sense of the tragedy that befell them.

The final episode deals with the economic issues & how it will affect all of us in the future. In order to get a sense of that future, Niall Ferguson interviews both Chinese factory owners in Zambia & their black Zambian workers. The contrast could not be starker!
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I bought this DVD solely after having watched it on television, and wanting to see it again, as I think it's very good. But, strewth! Reading some of the reviews, people have taken Niall Ferguson's programme very seriously indeed. Fair enough, you might say, it's a serious subject, but this doesn't purport to be a full & extensive history of China. That could take twenty episodes or more! What this does, and does very well, is give a populist view (remember, it was first put out on a Sunday evening on Channel 4, so had to attract the masses) of a subject, which, whatever our viewpoint, will have repercussions for us us all. The stunning & impressive economic rise of China over the last two decades has already materially affected us in the West, for whom, as I take it, Ferguson intended the programme should be seen. I don't want to fall into the same trap as others here, & go off on a big political rant. What Ferguson has done for us here, is given us three forty-seven minute episodes, which nicely precis the situation: That we shouldn't just take note of easily affordable products (as the Dragon's Den wallahs say, "what's the Chinese price for each unit"?), we should also be looking at how it's made, and how it changes OUR manufacturing base, and, inevitably, how it negatively impinges on employment in the West. This is good stuff, people in the UK should be made to watch it....
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By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 15 April 2012
Format: DVD
This short series consists of three 45 minute essays about Chinese economic development over the last century, and how it may be approaching the edge of an abyss which would make the current Euro crisis look like very small beans indeed. It's intelligent, thought-provoking television - although you may not agree with all of the conclusions...
The presenter is historian/economist Prof Niall Ferguson, who takes an extended trip around modern day China to demonstrate his themes and meet `typical' key players in the new Chinese economy. Ferguson is an engaging presenter with a neat turn of phrase; perhaps a touch inclined towards the over-dramatic, and with a slightly uncomfortable tendency to play-act to extremes for the camera. However he presents an interesting history and raises some genuine concerns. I wish he wouldn't ask/answer quite so many repetitive questions, however!
In the `historical' episodes, Ferguson dwells on the development of the communist state, and is shocked (or acts as if he's shocked) to discover that Mao is a popular hero among the people today. Yet Mao was responsible for the death and suffering of millions during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution -- more than Stalin and Hitler put together, if we believe Ferguson's addition! There are some older folk from rural areas who recall how half the village population died during the famines, and we meet one entrepreneur who now owns a successful motorcycle factory, but spent a decade in prison earlier in his life. It's not explained how he made the transition from `criminal' to `businessman' and that would have been fascinating. Instead his rehabilitation is used to demonstrate how the Chinese state has incorporated previously outlawed activities into its evolving economic model.
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