China's Young Athletes
The young athletes of China have a great opportunity, the chance to win an Olympic medal in their home country. But with great opportunity, comes enormous pressure. The young athletes at No 6 Middleschool in Lanzhou, one of China's poorest provinces, have an exhausting training and school programme. Some students start training from 5:30am and then there are fourteen hours of school programmes per day. Many of the athletes here come from poor farming families. They hope that sport will be their chance not only to compete in the Olympics, but also to have a better future.
China's Foul Play - China
Police in Beijing are racing to rid the streets of so-called troublemakers before the Olympic opening ceremony. Their targets are the law-abiding Chinese who go to Beijing to protest against corruption.
Trading in Death - China
The Death Penalty in China is increasingly prescribed as a panacea for social ills. Prisoners with death sentences are paraded through the streets with placards advertising their crimes. We profile Muslims, Christians and artists who have suffered discrimination, intimidation and torture. Tang Boqiao fled after the Tiananmen Square massacre. A former PSB (Public Security Bureau) officer reveals that many policemen use electric batons to inflict maximum misery. In court, lawyers have inadequate time to prepare a defence for their clients. A lawyer speaks out against a legal system with a conviction rate of well over 90%. While foreign companies enjoy cheap labour, Chinese workers have few civil rights. If they complain, they are dispatched to bleak labour camps where they undergo 're-education'. Even foreign businessmen are vulnerable. James Peng was sentenced to 17 years after he argued with his Chinese partner. His fate highlights the dangers of dealing with a country that has little respect for individual life.
The Sexist Revolution - China
Disturbing new statistics have shown that women in China are far more likely to commit suicide than their male counterparts. But, as our shocking report on the pressures facing modern-day Chinese women suggests, is it really any surprise?
One Child Policy - China
China's controversial one child policy has stemmed population growth but at what cost? From forced abortions to heavy fines, many have suffered.
"If people tried to have a second child and didn't have any money, they'd have their house pulled down," complains Liu Shuling. She attracted the wrath of local officials and was heavily fined when she became pregnant a second time. "It was very hard," she recalls. "Fortunately, we didn't starve to death." For the past twenty-five years, controlling population growth has been a major priority for the Chinese government. "Unless there is a containment of population, there will be no economic growth, no social stability or social harmony," explains official Siri Tellier. But there's real concern that this policy has created a generation of spoilt children. "They are very delicate. They can't cope with setbacks," states teacher Sun Kaiyun. Demographic growth may have been stemmed but new population problems have been created. The preference for boys has led to millions of female foetuses being aborted. Now, tens of millions of Chinese men face a future with no prospect of a female partner. And that could create the social unrest the one child policy was supposed to avoid.
Brat Camp - China
The Chinese have come up with a unique way of reforming naughty children or bad students. They're sent to 'walking school' and forced to march up to 800 km across the country.
The Great Firewall Of China
China has the most sophisticated censorship and internet surveillance in the world. But despite this autocratic control some guerrilla bloggers are still managing to get their message through.
"The Government always wants to try to act as the cat to control people's access to information but I think the mouse is running faster." This is the voice of Isaac Mao, he was one of China's earliest bloggers, and has learnt how to work the system. "The Chinese government's goal is not to control one hundred percent of what people are doing one hundred percent of the time," if they are too authoritarian, they will be faced with civil unrest. As CNN correspondent Rebecca MacKinnon points out, "to remain in power they want to prevent certain uses of the internet that might lead to overthrow." Journalists like Zhang Shihe work the gaps in the censorship to broadcast their message, " I rely on my instinct. Am I telling the truth or lies? Am I trying to help improve the situation? I know if I can control this, I'll be fine." He regularly films and comments on rural working conditions, and has as yet avoided jail. But his story is not typical. With about 30 known journalists and 50 internet users known to be behind bars, the Committee to Protect Journalists has branded China "the world's leading jailer of journalists."
Mosuo Women - China
In some parts of China girls are killed at birth but in the land the Chinese call the 'kingdom of daughters' womanhood is celebrated. High in the breathtaking mountains of south-western China, live the Mosuo tribe. The Mosuo maintain a society which is probably unique in the world. It revolves completely around women. Property is handed down from mother to daughter. In their language there is not even a word for 'father' and conventional marriage is unheard of. In the past the Chinese government tried to stamp out the Mosuo way of life but their culture is now flourishing again. The simple reason is tourism. The Mosuo live beside a beautiful lake, already a popular destination for Chinese tourists. But whether the culture survives remains to be seen - new-found prosperity and contact with outsiders has bought with it a clamour for a change for the Mosuo.
China's Pollution Busters - China
In the past six years, infant birth defects in China have increased by an unprecedented 40%. This rise is being blamed on pollution from factories. Now green campaigners are taking on the multinationals.
"The untreated waste is pumped out secretly at night", states activist Wu Deng Ming, pointing at a water outlet leading from a factory into a river. "People living along the river have enlarged livers", claims one local. They suffer from: "loss of appetite or cancer and all sorts of terminal diseases". Although strong laws governing pollution exist, these are regularly flouted. "Some local officials give protection to polluters", claims Ma Jun. In an attempt to put pressure on polluters, campaigners are naming and shaming guilty companies online. "We let people know that this company, with such a popular brand, is violated waste water discharge standards". There are also signs that central government is taking the problem more seriously. "The state is very serious about environmental problems", states official Zhou Linbo. Some factories have been closed down. But strong resistance to change still exists. "Polluting factories hire hooligans to deal with people they believe will damage their reputation", claims Wu Deng Ming. Other companies threaten to relocate to Vietnam or Indonesia where; "we can still discharge more of less freely".
Cancer Villages - China
The Chinese government claims it's making serious efforts to clean up pollution. But as this horrifying report shows, much of their 'success' has involved simply moving their toxic industries out of sight.
"It's risky, but we have no other choice: We only have this river," Wu Zhuliang tell us from his remote farm in South Western China. For Wu and his family their reliance on the river, which runs yellow with pollution, has had terrible consequences. They buried his son just over a month ago. He had been diagnosed with two types of cancer, Leukaemia and Thymoma, and had been in so much pain he said to his mother, "open the window and I'll jump out". The water from Wu's river was found to have levels of chromium, a known carcinogen, "200 times higher than the national standard". Ma Tianjie from Greenpeace tells us it's so toxic that, "simply touching the water, it could make your skin itchy. It's a very, very serious problem." All across rural China the same stories abound. The government is cleaning up the cities, but often the most toxic industries are simply moved to rural areas where regulations are lax. Chinese farmers are now four times more likely to die from liver cancer than the global average. "The government is trying to find a way to get rid of this huge pile of historically accumulated waste but they are struggling."
Ghost Cities - China
Vast new cities are being built across China at a rate of ten a year, but they remain almost completely uninhabited ghost towns. Racing to stay ahead of the world economy, is the superpower about to implode?
"There are around 64 million empty apartments in China," claims analyst Gillem Tulloch. It's all part of the Chinese government's efforts to keep its economy booming and there are plenty of people who would love to move in, but the properties are priced out of the market. It's after 2pm and in the new city of Dongguan shop owner Tian Yu Gao is yet to serve a single customer. "It's a bit boring," he sighs. His open shop is a rare sight in the Great Mall: once heralded by the New York Times as proof of China's astonishing consumer culture, today it is an eerie vista of emptiness. "It can't stay this way," insists Tulloch, "when the bubble bursts, it will impoverish vast numbers of people".