The People’s Republic of Capitalism

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Joined at the Hip

Perhaps nothing crystallizes the theme of Ted Koppel’s excellent documentary series “The People’s Republic of Capitalism” like the production of Ethan Allen couches. Over four episodes (Last episode is missing from DocumentaryStorm), Koppel reveals increasing economic interdependence between the United States and China, and daily business for the American furniture maker is a case in point.

While couch bases are made in Chinese factories using cheap labor, those bases are then sent to the U.S. to be assembled with other components. The finished couches are then sent to China to be sold to a growing middle class with money to spare. Such is the cycle of globalization, pushing the U.S. and China into a necessary partnership that has an upside for some and a profound downside for others.

“The U.S. would have an easier time disentangling itself from Germany or France than from the Chinese,” says Ted Koppel. “You have to wonder how either country would get along without the other.” Perhaps this is why US leaders expect to get away with so much international aggression – by buying China’s consent.

From MAOism to MEism

Most Americans have never heard of Chongqing, a mega-city in western China positively exploding with growth, or the Chinese’s favorite pressure valve, the “KTV”. The economic boom in Chongqing has shaken traditional values and culture with far-reaching effects on religion and politics, while KTV nightclubs – and gay establishments, too – are flourishing.

The Fast Lane

The Chinese government expects the automotive industry to transform the country both economically and socially, but adding 9 million cars to the road every year is changing China in other ways as well, sometimes not so positively. At the same time, Chinese automakers are beginning to eye the US market.

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