The Asia Society and ChinaFile will be showing an extended version of The End of the Chinese Miracle, a film I shot for the Financial Times, as part of a panel discussion on that subject in NYC this April 20th. Panelists will include Financial Times Asia Editor Jamil Anderlini (who originally conceived and then voiced the piece); former Washington and Beijing Bureau Chief Richard McGregor; Beijing Economics Correspondent Yuan Yang; and financier, philanthropist, and frequent Financial Times columnist George Soros. They will be moderated by Arthur Ross Director of the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations Orville Schell. They'll discuss the changes taking place in the Chinese economy and take a look at the country's prospects in the coming years. Friends in NYC who want to hear what's going down in China from some people who should know may want to check it out. More info here.
Below is a pic of the star, the wonderful Yang Zhongyou, a laid-off migrant worker who was brave and generous enough to let me follow him all the way from the boomtown of Shenzhen to his tiny village in the mountains of Hunan. After shooting the video last November, I've spoken to him a few times (he was pretty happy with the result, once I had given him a rough translated synopsis of the English). He has now moved back to his village permanently, and is still looking for work. Meanwhile, his wife (10 years his junior) has left him to care for his grandson, elderly father and disabled uncle alone. Without much land left to farm and with few prospects of new work in his late 40s, it's hard to be very optimistic. Parts of the Chinese countryside have become more dynamic in recent years as factories have moved inland in search of cheaper labour and returning workers have entered the private sector, but it is not clear what will become of many people like him who return to remote areas with little capital to start new ventures. Of the many emotions that Yang expressed during my time with him, a major one was disappointment: how is it that after working for one company for over a decade, he could be laid off suddenly with little compensation? And how is it that after working over 25 years, he is back in the same farmhouse in his village with little more than what he started with? We hear many rags-to-riches China stories, but it's important to recognise that for many the Chinese Dream has been just that - more of a dream than a reality.