Filmed over three years, with unique access to the private side of China, this beautiful and intimate series follows the lives of everyday people across this huge country, capturing the nation’s relationship with nature and the environment, as it grapples with global warming and ecological collapse in its pursuit of an ambitious new future.
Part 1: A Letter from Russia
A letter from Russian children arrives at a primary school in the coastal town of Juegang, asking the pupils to protect spoon-billed sandpipers on their migration along the Chinese coast. Four budding young journalists in the class investigate why the bird is threatened with extinction, and their investigation takes them into the heart of China’s environmental crisis. Meanwhile, on the Tibetan Plateau, 13-year-old trainee monk Gama and his teacher, Lama Zhou Zha, a Living Buddha, teach environmental husbandry to nomads, in an area where many wild animals are threatened with extinction.
Part 2: Local Heroes
Includes the first footage filmed of a snow leopard in China, but as a young Tibetan monk discovers, its habitat is threatened by a planned dam on the Yangtze river. Four schoolchildren investigate why people in their town are suffering from mystery illnesses and a young mother takes on the might of a factory in her town which she believes is causing cancer amongt its inhabitants.
Part 3: From Death Comes Life
On the Tibetan Plateau, novice monk Gama finds out how a huge open cast mine, 14 times the size of the City of London, threatens to contaminate the headwaters of the Yellow River. In central China, a courageous young mother finds out that a local factory has been releasing poisonous hydrogen cyanide. And on the coast, the four young journalists enter a competition, to highlight the plight of the endangered spoon-billed sandpiper.
Part 4: Silent Spring
In central China, mothers seek safer food for their children, as the dangerous impact of chemicals percolating through the soils and waters becomes ever more apparent, with tragic results, as in the case of 12-year-old girl Wu, who’s suffering from bone marrow disease. Novice monk Gama finally makes it across the plateau to the largest Tibetan monastery in the world, and on the coast, the four young journalists involve schools across Asia in their increasingly ambitious quest to save the endangered spoon-billed sandpiper.
Part 5: For a Better Future
Novice monk Gama begins his studies at the largest Tibetan monastery in China. Wumingsi is a breathtakingly beautiful city of bright red wooden houses, home to 20,000 monks and nuns. Little Gama befriends Zhou Jia, a hugely charismatic monk dedicated to saving snow leopards. Through Gama’s eyes, we witness a sky burial and the widespread poisoning of pika, the key animal of the grassland. In central China, reporter Xu leads his band of volunteers in the fight against ‘electro fishing’, the mass killing of fish with electricity. His story climaxes with an unprecedented attack upon him by the People’s Daily. Beleaguered and alone, he faces humiliation. And from Beijing comes news of the results of the National Competition. Do the four young journalists have a chance? And what of China’s future? Is there hope for the next generation?