What I like best is that Aljazeera gives us a viewpoint lacking in our domestic networks. For example, Sunday afternoon they broadcast the best documentary on Chinese political, social and financial history of the last 40 years I have ever seen. It was neither pro nor anti China. It was an evenhanded report of the amazing progress in China and it also reported the great cost of that progress, such as the undisputed fact that China has lifted 682 million of its citizens out of abject poverty into an educated, employed middle class. But they also reported the huge improvements were accomplished by denying free public education and used little public funds for health care.
They also showed the hundred million Chinese who cannot even be considered subsystem farmers. They still live as an aboriginal society, unchanged for thousands of years.
In addition to the economic progress in China, the story showed how Chinese now live with greater political and social freedom than any time in their 5,000-year history. What might be considered a restricted life by Westerners is to the Chinese a miracle of change. People can now choose where they live, where they work and if they are not happy, they can openly protest to their employers or government. An act of civil disobedience that was severely punished a few decades ago is now unpunished or punished with what is the western equivalent of a traffic ticket.
The news story also reported the negatives of this true Chinese revolution. It showed the damage to the environment and the disruptions to the social fabric when hundreds of millions of agriculture families are moved from villages to great cities.
It cannot be denied that China in four decades has changed itself from a basket case to a breadbasket, with the second largest industrial economy in the world. What I find heartening is this gigantic manufacturing base is not producing weapons and addicting drugs. They are producing consumer goods for home and export.