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China Magic Weapon

   2021    Culture
America says eight out of ten industrial espionage cases now involve China. Governments around the world are uncovering secret operations to expand China's influence - the work of a little-known branch of the Chinese Communist Party called the United Front Work Department. President Xi has called it his 'magic weapon'.
Jane Corbin investigates this powerful but shadowy organisation. Has influence become interference as China bids to become the most powerful nation on earth?

In The Same Breath

   2021    Culture
How did the Chinese government turn pandemic cover ups in Wuhan into a triumph for the Communist party? Award-winning filmmaker Nanfu Wang recounts the experiences of people on the ground in the earliest days of the novel coronavirus and the way two countries dealt with its initial spread, from the first days of the outbreak in Wuhan to its rampage across the United States. The film explores the early confusion and parallel campaigns by authorities to try to contain the virus as well as shape the public narrative through misinformation, resulting in a devastating impact on citizens of both countries.
With emotional first-hand accounts from medical professionals, patients, and grieving family members, and startling, on-the-ground footage from both Wuhan and the U.S., In The Same Breath is a revelatory illustration of the devastating toll that resulted from official missteps at containment of the infection and the widespread phenomenon of social media misinformation, while also highlighting the strength and resilience of the people who risked everything to communicate the truth.

The Secret File of Marco Polo

   2018    Historia
Did Marco Polo, the most illustrious traveller in history, ever go to China? To this day doubt lingers, among some scholars, as to whether the Venetian’s book is a personal account of China’s 13th-century Middle Kingdom and its marvels. Scientists, western scholars and Chinese historians have uncovered striking new evidence that the son of Venetian merchants actually had been to China. Explore the mysteries of the historical figure in this featured documentary.

Catastrophe and Annihilation

   2021    History
After more than a century of civil war, Toyotomi Hideyoshi has united Japan. His rivals have either sworn their allegiance, or they have been destroyed. Despite this fledgling peace, Hideyoshi now dreams of a bold and outlandish plan to make himself the most powerful man in Asia. He plans to expand his reign to China. Logistical challenges and fierce operation in Korea prove to be costly.
Series: Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan

Changing the Script

   2020    History
The written word is so important in everyday life that there can be few more radical acts than forcing an entire nation to learn a new script. Yet that is what happened in Turkey in 1928 when Mustafa Kemal decreed that the Arabic script would be replaced by the letters of the Latin alphabet. Communication with computers using human language is usually made with Latin letters. This is how most Chinese people interact with their computers and smart phones, using a Latin-based phonetic script called Pinyin. As a result, even highly educated Chinese are losing the ability to write using Chinese characters. Could what is happening in China be the future of writing everywhere?
Series: The Secret History of Writing

Words on a Page

   2020    History
Writing itself is 5,000 years old, and for most of that time words were written by hand using a variety of tools. The Romans were able to run an empire thanks to documents written on papyrus. Scroll books could be made quite cheaply and, as a result, ancient Rome had a thriving written culture. With the fall of the Roman Empire, papyrus became more difficult to obtain. Europeans were forced to turn to a much more expensive surface on which to write: Parchment. Medieval handwritten books could cost as much as a house, they also represent a limitation on literacy and scholarship.
No such limitations were felt in China, where paper had been invented in the second century. Paper was the foundation of Chinese culture and power, and for centuries how to make it was kept secret. When the secret was out, paper mills soon sprang up across central Asia. The result was an intellectual flourishing known as the Islamic Golden Age. Muslim scholars made discoveries in biology, geology, astronomy and mathematics. By contrast, Europe was an intellectual backwater.
That changed with Gutenberg’s development of movable type printing. The letters of the Latin alphabet have very simple block-like shapes, which made it relatively simple to turn them into type pieces. When printers tried to use movable type to print Arabic texts, they found themselves hampered by the cursive nature of Arabic writing. The success of movable type printing in Europe led to a thousand-fold increase in the availability of information, which produced an explosion of ideas that led directly to the European Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution that followed.
Series: The Secret History of Writing
Chimp Empire

Chimp Empire

2023  Nature
The Crime of the Century

The Crime of the Century

2021  Medicine
Secrets of the Universe

Secrets of the Universe

2022  Technology
Unknown

Unknown

2023  Science
The Story of China

The Story of China

2016  History
Triumph of Life

Triumph of Life

2006  Nature