Segments in this Video

Introduction: Fastest Changing Place on Earth (01:32)


The Chinese government has decided to raze the rural town, White Horse Village, to build a modern city. It is part of the largest urbanization project in history. BBC follows a family, a businessman, and an official tasked with convincing locals to give up their way of life.

Urbanizing Rural Areas (03:07)

A rice-and-pig farmer provides for her family on the outskirts of White Horse Village. Hundreds of millions of farmers travel to cities on the East Coast in search of better jobs. The Chinese government wants to reverse that trend by bringing metropolis to the countryside instead.

Convincing the Locals (05:24)

White Horse Village will be replaced by Wu Xi New Town, and the town's communist party secretary must calculate home values and sell the impending change. The villagers feel cheated by low compensation for their land. Mr. Xien took the money and started a construction business.

Lure of Metropolis (02:42)

The farmer used to work as a maid in Beijing, and she knows that cities are the only place to make real money. Most young people in the valley migrate for work. Yu Chen tells her parents she intends to move to the city with her boyfriend.

Construction Underway (03:20)

All the new buildings in White Horse Village are government offices, and there are no signs of the promised apartments and schools. Chinese New Year approaches, and the farmer's husband returns for a rare visit; 150 million people leave their families to work in the cities.

Holiday Celebration (05:34)

The farmer and her husband prepare pork for their traditional New Year feast. China's economy has grown by 10% this year, and business is good for the Xien family. Yu Chen has moved to Shenzhen with her husband, and they are having a baby.

Not So Harmonious Society (08:07)

Battle lines have been drawn over eviction notices. The party secretary sets an example by having his own home demolished. Shenzhen was little more than a fishing village 30 years ago, and it now has a population of more than 12 million.

Chongqing Connection (03:59)

The Xiens have won a lucrative contract and convinced their daughter to move to an emerging megacity located 200 miles from White Horse Village. Villagers have not been able to enroll their children in the new high school as promised by the government.

Low-Grade Housing (02:44)

White Horse Village has been replaced with paved streets and high rises. Villagers are unhappy with the quality of their new apartments and refusing to move in. The temptation of good jobs is luring migrant workers back to the valley.

Officials Solicit Bribes (02:13)

The farmer and Mr. Xien have both had brushes with corrupt officials. A lack of connection prevented Xijang from building an extension to her home. Mr. Xien says some officials bully citizens and threaten to take over their businesses.

Allegations of Corruption (02:04)

A sit-down protest forces the government to make concessions, and White Horse Villagers agree to move into their apartments after a years-long standoff. The party secretary and his wife buy an apartment in the same building as their daughter. An investigation ensues.

Cash Flow Problems (02:52)

The global economic crisis has been felt across China, and many of Mr. Xien's clients are not paying on time. Mrs. Xien returns to the valley to collect rent. A new highway is being built, but the terrain makes it challenging. The party secretary has retired after 25 years and become a landlord.

Adjusting to City Life (07:15)

The farmer has landed two jobs and makes more in a month than she used to make in a year. Village children are allowed in school after another protest. Many White Horse residents see a bright future, though one man still refuses to leave his old farmhouse.

Credits: Fastest Changing Place on Earth (00:31)

Credits: Fastest Changing Place on Earth

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The Fastest Changing Place On Earth

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This World tells the story of White Horse Village, a tiny farming community deep in rural China. In the early 2000s, it became part of the biggest urbanization project in human history, as the Chinese government decided to take half a billion farmers and turn them into city-dwelling consumers. It is a project with a speed and scale unimaginable anywhere else on Earth. In just 10 years, the government planned to build thousands of new cities, a new road network to rival that of the United States, and 300 of the world's biggest dams. Carrie Gracie follows the lives of local people during this upheaval.

Length: 51 minutes

Item#: EDP188060

ISBN: 978-1-64867-258-3

Copyright date: ©2012

Closed Captioned

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