2. The long march

Posted: 29 June 2001

More people are on the move in China than ever before in human history. With China already home to a fifth of the world's population, the Chinese government is building 400 new cities in the next 20 years, and actively encouraging people to move to the city to relieve pressure on scarce agricultural land.

New towns and settlements are springing up from nowhere. Other Chinese cities are witnessing an explosion in their populations, stretching their capacity to deliver essential services to breaking point.

This second City Life programme tells the story of one such town, Chengdu, in South West China. Chengdu was once the southern staging post for the silk trade and capital of Shu Kingdom. In 256 BC, Shu leader, Li Bing, built the Dujiangyan Irrigation System, channelling the Min river through Chengdu in what is still recognised as a triumph in hydraulic engineering. But the irrigation system was neglected and abused during the rapid industrial development of the 1970s, resulting in massive pollution and floods.

Today, prompted by a campaign started in 1985 by Chengdu schoolchildren, the municipal government has succeeded in reversing the damage, turning what had become an urban nightmare into a model of modern day planning.

This film forms part of the Life Series II on City Life. Contact TVE's distribution office by clicking here.
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