Reggie in China – 19 July 2021 – 19/7/2021 – Monday – BBC Two
City of Dreams
Series 1 Episode 2 of 3
In a wild, eye-popping, thought-provoking adventure, Reggie Yates travels to China and visits four very different cities, all at the forefront of the modern nation, to discover the new fault lines in society and how they affect a generation who have grown up with seemingly more freedom than any other in the last 70 years. At a time of enormous change in the country he discovers how a new wave of creatives, innovators, entrepreneurs and migrant workers are transforming China, and the world, while looking back to China’s past to understand how it has reached its position of global powerhouse and how the state’s cultural boundaries have been redrawn.
In the second of three episodes, Reggie visits Beijing, the capital of China, home to President Xi Jinping. Reggie wants to understand President Xi’s background, and how his turbulent upbringing in the shadow of Chairman Mao and the Communist party informs his ideals and the relationship between Communism and capitalism under his presidency.
First, Reggie enters the world of live-streaming – a thriving industry that rakes in billions of dollars a year. Reggie visits Redu Media, one of the major live-streaming agencies in China, to talk to streamers and agency bosses about this new, incredibly successful business model.
Even on the internet the Chinese government still maintains strict controls – such as when 20-year-old blogger Yang Laili ‘disrespectfully’ performed the Chinese national anthem and was sentenced to four days in jail, or when JunJun, a dancer whom Reggie meets, was temporarily banned from streaming for flouting the dress code.
Western social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are banned in China. Instead China-specific sites like Weibo take their place, but these are still vulnerable to scrutiny. Last year, a social media challenge, nicknamed the Flaunt Your Wealth or Falling Stars challenge, went viral, depicting young wealthy Chinese people sprawled on the floor surrounded by luxury items and piles of cash.
To understand the rich of Beijing, Reggie meets millionaire Cai Wentai, who takes him for a drive around the city in his McLaren supercar, shows him around his offices, and explains how he walks the line between the Communist party and a wealthy capitalist lifestyle. He introduces Reggie to his successful friends at a lavish dinner, where they discuss the Chinese Dream and what it means to them.
At the other end of the spectrum, Beijing is a different kind of ‘City of Dreams’ for hundreds of thousands flocking to the city in the hopes of achieving their goals. High housing costs have driven many to commuter towns surrounding Beijing, with some workers commuting for two to three hours each way every day, and Reggie travels to one such town to see what life is like for commuters and workers there.
In particular, Reggie visits a parcel depot to meet a group of workers who live in on-site bunkbed dormitories, all so they can earn a wage and save money so they can move back into Beijing – their own modest Chinese Dream. Reggie tries his hand at being a parcel courier, driving a pedicab around Beijing for a full day, delivering parcels in the run up to Singles’ Day, China’s answer to Black Friday, a national holiday centred around e-commerce.
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About Reggie in China
Reggie discovers contemporary China, diving deep into four megacities in search of the new generations transforming their future.
This show is broadcast on BBC Two, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.
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