tv Tavis Smiley PBS August 17, 2011 12:00am-12:30am PDT
tavis: good evening from china, i am tavis smiley. we are here talking to everyday chinese about the issues that matter most to them, the environment, the economy, education, the future, the family, real issues, real people, every night from the people's republic of china. our conversation begins tonight right now. >> every community has a martin luther king street. this is a place for wal-mart
tavis: this is the view of beijing from the roof of the microsoft campus. this is second only to their headquarters. the big cities are already jammed and in the next 10 years, they expect the largest internal migration in history there is a downside to all of this gallup and growth and you can see it, a thicket ago, bikes dominated the streets. today, everyone would like a car. -- a decade ago, bikes dominated the streets. the government has limited car ownership but in that edict might be too little, too late. the growth model could derail all of the economic gains of the past two decades.
and this is a part in the heart of shanghai. three years ago, this is little more than an urban jump that was left behind when the world expo site was left behind and gutted. kongjian yu is the founder of turenscape, one of the most acclaimed design firms. he is an advocate for environmental sustainability and was brought in literally to change the landscape. >> every contaminated water and soil. in china, 75% of the water. all of the major leagues in china and the rivers, this runs through the city's and they have been contaminated.
we decided to make this park a demonstration. how can you clean the water? you use the landscape. you use vegetation. do not use sewage. we need some inexpensive solutions, workable solutions >> the water is a big issue in china, too little and some areas and too much and others. in eastern and southern china, at the floods are calling mass destruction while the same time, surrounding the river, almost a million people are without safe drinking water. china has a monsoon climate with torrential rains giving way to severe drought. poor planning is partly to blame for the water woes. >> we made some big mistakes in the 30 years of urbanization.
this is to dim the river. we have virtually destroyed the water system. >> i read something from you and your point was that if the environment fails, the burn it fails. if the environment fails, the economy fails. i get that. in a place like china, where everything is about making money. everyone sees chinese people as consumer. how do you get traction on this idea? where is the attraction of -- where is the money in this project? >> of course. the environment itself. the environmental asset itself is money. the park will be used as a management for the -- you can see the buildings, that is one thing. the landscape generates real estate, generates an increase in value of the land.
tavis: in china, you have a dozen cities, more than any country in the world. you have 12 cities that have more than 5 million people in those cities. no other country in the world boasts that. how in the long run do you balance population and nature, how do you balance those things? >> well, that is a very good question. which part of nature is more important than other parts of nature. for example, my body, i can take off my me, my arms, but i cannot sacrifice my heart. -- i can take off my meat. i cannot sacrifice my head. tavis: that would be a problem. >> think of nature as a living organism. we need to identify nature as critical infrastructure first. nature is critical
infrastructure. as well as, for example, the -- of the land. it can clean water. this provides habitat for biodiversity. the chinese government, believe it or not come on right now it is really worried about the environmental issues right now. they are really listening. they're really trying to solve the problem. tavis: there are a lot of people that would not agree with you on that. they see that china is one of the great polluters. i am from the u.s., we are great polluters. they see china as a great polluter and they're not convinced that the chinese government is taking that problem seriously. when you come to china come everyone toasted to have a great time but they tell you that the pollution is horrible. -- when you come to china, everyone tells you to have a great time. >> this is very common.
compared to 10 years ago, when i came back from america to china to teach at peking university, the situation is worse. the air-conditioning is worse. now, you can gradually see this problem solved. this is also a matter of balance. the chinese government has the pressure of development. we have 13 million people who want to move to the city every year, which is almost the whole australian population. they want to move to the city. at the same time, we have a shortage of water, for example, a shortage of oil, a shortage of all kinds of natural resources. this is a balance. tavis: kongjian yu was born into a family of farmers. he believes that respect for the
land is crucial to the future of this country as an economic boom >> basically, it was taken from america, the consumers idea. to allow the money to invest and consume. in chinese culture, the deep culture, we have a culture of saving. saving energy, saving resources, saving money. we have such a culture because we have such a heavy population and we have such meager resources. we have developed this kind of culture. that is what i want to recover. tavis: the question is, whether or not the former will trump the ladder or the latter will trump the former. put another way, the pace of the progress you are making
incrementally, candice keep up with the pace of the population growth and the money chase? -- the pace of the growth your making a environmentally, can this keep up with the pace of the population growth? >> we are at the crisis now. whenever we have a crisis, then we have our intellectual movement. we need to have an intellectual revolution. a revolution of the thinking. it is not because you want to or not, because it is necessary. our nation has survived in this kind of engineering. we have to be able to save. tavis: are you comfortable that the pace of the progress is enough to make sure that never happens? >> we are going to have some
trouble. this is a different direction. what can we do right now? we shall not wait until disaster, until -- my company also is trying to show people early. when they feel what they need to find an alternative, okay, here is an alternative. here is a clean alternative for the urban landscape, for the aesthetics also. this is the balance. this is the violence. -- the balance. we will not sacrifice nature for the urban. a new definition of urban. tavis: i love it. this is like central park in the middle of manhattan. this is in the middle of all of the sprawling buildings, you have that beautiful natural landscape. >> of the river system and we
can solve this problem. tavis: wonderful work. >> thank you. tavis: this is very impressive. the environment is only one challenge. the other is the rampant in equality between the rich and poor. in shanghai alone, there are some 9 million migrant workers. they are the ones sweeping the streets and working in the factories. there has been serious protests from workers about their mistreatment. authorities have pushed back hard but you can only keep a lid on inequality for so long. in this communist country where workers are supposed have the same month in the gis as the lead, most of the kids of migrant workers to not go to schools like these. -- workers are supposed to have the same opportunities as the elite. they go to schools that are separate and unequal. parents everywhere will put up with a lot if they think that their kids will have it better.
that is a reality not lost on the chinese government. now, in certain areas, mineworkers' kids are getting a break. -- migrant workers' kids are getting a break. with my friend and colleague dr. cornell west, i spent some time at this school just outside shanghai where some 50,000 kids of migrant workers are at the vanguard of change. >> a dance studio. tavis: our diet lives part-time in shanghai. she is also a governor of the committee of 100, a nonprofit is asian of americans to work to promote understanding between our two countries. -- a nonprofit group of chinese americans who work to promote understanding. she is actively involved in education through the arts in china.
how long have you been in the school? >> about two years. tavis: are you enjoying it? is this a typical school in china? >> yes. this goes from middle school to high school. tavis: this is the whole class? >> the whole class. tavis: are they learning a particular subject? >> there learning language. -- they are learning language. >> [chanting, reciting] tavis: it is it possible the some of these kids read better than their parents?
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [applause] tavis: we wanted to see where these impressive students actually lived. just a few years ago, the chinese government would never have let us take our cameras to a migrant workers' compound but some restrictions are lifting. what dr. west and i encountered was inspiring and unsettling. >> these are billed by farmers. -- built by farmers. they built the very minimal houses. they are granted to migrant workers. -- rented to migrant workers.
tavis: this is their home? >> this is their home. tavis: this room. he works in the factory but this is their home. this room. >> these are all of his accomplishments. these are his prize that he won for his accomplishments at school. tavis: this young brother here. yes, yes, yes. his accomplishments are the wallpaper. >> right, exactly. tavis: their decorating their one-room house with his accomplishments in school. -- they are decorating their one-room house. does he have siblings? >> yes.
tavis: he fought for and won custody for his only child. how does he manage working and being a single father? because china is so family oriented, i was stunned because the notion of a single father had never entered into my mind in china. how does he manage? >> he works nearby here. in the morning, sometimes he comes back from work. he will cook dinner. that is the best of. >> that's right. -- that is the bathtub. >> i asked about how they did their homework. they bring the table over so that he can eat and do this. tavis: thank you.
i am so glad you brought us here. this is really china. >> this is still the majority of china. >> all of the media that you read, about the billionaires', all of that. that is interesting but that is a small minority. that is like saying that park avenue in new york is america. people sometimes the want to see that. >> we want to see all of china. >> this gives you a better understanding of what the government is trying to do. >> you have some basic things.
tavis: in america, getting quick kids into quality schools is competitive -- getting kids into police schools is competitive. how did he get him into the school? >> partially it was competitive in the sense that his accomplishments were not killing applied. -- when he applied. tavis: he is a good student. where do you do your homework? >> he has an achievement certificate. tavis: they are achieving. >> they are achieving. tavis: they are getting it done. wow. >> look at this. it has ice cream.
tavis: we are in the recreation center. i got one there, player. we are out of here. thank you very much. >> ok. tavis: we had the privilege of visiting two more families. this father, like many others, spends weeks away from his family working far away from home. >> he is only the worker of the family. his work is not -- his wife is not working. he works over two hours away so we have to stay there.
he only comes home part of the time. he regrets having to be so far away. they need the extra money to support the family said that is why he sacrifices. tavis: thank you. >> thank you. tavis: i am amazed how they make it work. >> they made themselves a small place to dave -- to bathe. she is on and every other day schedule.
he only comes home on the weekends. tavis: he works far away, too? >> fairly far. she is in the second grade now. she went into the first grade. tavis: she has done very well. very well. >> the teacher's helper at school in all ways. this is a lifestyle for her. -- the teachers help her at school in all ways. tavis: [laughter] >> she said, you will take it home. she said, ok. tavis: [laughter] thank you. ok.
tavis: as we left, the kids went back to their afternoon classes. we were privileged to see. the majority of the people of this country are for and today was a fascinating day because the last time i was in china, i got a chance to ease cents a little bit of this. you spend all your time shopping in beijing and all of your time shopping in the clubs. he really missed a large part of what china is about. you spend time with these migrants and children and you get a chance to see the west of china, the majority of china. -- the rest of china, the majority of china. it was depressing in a lot of ways but actually a very uplifting in other ways because everyone of these migrant workers that i met, everyone of their children, smiles on their
face, joy in their heart, happiness in their soul. i am walking the door and they are offering me water and food. -- i walk in the door and they are offering me a water and food. they had little and they offered you much. that is a moving experience. >> they have smiles on their faces, don't they. tavis: coming to china has been a great trip. until next time, keep the faith. we will see you then. >> every community has a market the king boulevard. this is the cornerstone we all know. this is not just a street or boulevard but for wal-rt to gather with your community to make everyday better.