China - As History Is My Witness


Omnibus Edition: Part 220121019

Qin Shi Huangdi - The Emperor; Li Bai - The Warlord; Wang Anshi - The Mandarin; Hong Xiuquan - The Rebel; Old Hundred Names - China's Citizens.

Omnibus: Part 120121012

Omnibus edition of episodes 1-5 of China: As History is My Witness in which the BBC's former Beijing Correspondent Carrie Gracie explores 5 great lives from Chinese history and asks what they tell us about China today.

1. SIMA QIAN: China's Great Historian faces a tough choice - death or castration.

2. KUBLAI KHAN: How the man from Mongolia beat the odds and conquered the south and became China's favourite barbarian.

3. THE DUKE OF ZHOU: In a society built around ancestor worship, Carrie Gracie charts the life of the ultimate ancestor and the man who inspired Confucius.

4. DU FU & LI BAI: China's answer to Shakespeare - Chinese children still quote these two drunkard poets from the 8th Century.

5. THE SOONG SISTERS: The story of three sisters who married some of the most powerful men of the 20th Century - it is said that one sister loved money, one loved power and one loved her country.

Presenter: Carrie Gracie

Producer: Neal Razzell.

Sima Qian - China's Great Historian; Kublai Khan - The Barbarian; The Duke of Zhou - The Ancestor; Li Bai and Du Fu - The Poets; The Soong Sisters - The Consorts.

01Sima Qian: China's Great Historian20121008

Free speech has long had a high price in China. Here Sima Qian ponders his privates - and posterity - in a tale that still resonates after more than 2,000 years.

02Kublai Khan: The Barbarian20121009

The Chinese emperor who inspired Coleridge and Columbus was not Chinese. Carrie Gracie finds a pattern in the way China digests foreigners and their ideas.

03The Duke Of Zhou: The Ancestor20121010

Many Chinese look to Confucius for guidance. But Confucius looked to the Duke of Zhou. He handed power to his nephew 3,000 years ago, but his ideas still motivate leaders today.

04Du Fu And Li Bai - The Poets20121011

Carrie Gracie explores the lives of Du Fu and Li Bai, two men whose poetry remains as vivid in the Chinese imagination as Shakespeare is in our own.

05The Soong Sisters - The Consorts20121012

On one bank of the Huangpu river in Shanghai stands a forest of steel and glass skyscrapers, but on the other - colonial splendour. A century ago, foreigners unpacked a whole new fascinating way of life on the docks here.

From Western ships came bicycles, engine parts and young Chinese with a vision of modernity - adventurers like Charlie Soong who had been out to see the world and had come back.

Charlie had sons, and in any earlier generation he'd have ignored his daughters but he had been educated by American Methodists and he believed in Christian virtue, democracy and the dignity of women.

From this waterfront, he sent his daughters to America to get a grounding in all three.

As Shanghai boomed, their horizons expanded. And in 1914 the eldest, Ailing, made a strategic match with a young man, H H Kung. Money was no object. He and his bride would become China's richest couple.

Qingling, the second sister, married a very different kind of politician - Sun Yatsen, the revolutionary leader of China, who had become President of China after the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1912.

As Sun was an older man and already married, Qingling's parents objected - so she jumped out of a window and eloped with him.

All three sisters were very much in the public eye, and in the news magazines almost as often as film stars - but life wasn't just a round of photo opportunities and jazz.

Qingling's husband Sun Yatsen died in 1925 and his movement split into warring camps.His successor, Chiang Kaishek, was a no-nonsense military man - some would say a fascist. Qingling was horrified by his tactics. And doubly horrified when she discovered her younger sister Meiling was planning to marry him.

Presenter: Carrie Gracie

Producer: Neal Razzell.

06Qin Shi Huangdi: The Emperor20121015

The Emperor who built a unified China but enslaved nations and buried scholars in the process. Hero or villain?

07Li Bai - The Warlord20121016

The swashbuckling adventurer from ancient China, when cunning and courage ruled, whose exploits still grip China today.

08Wang Anshi - The Mandarin20121017

Running China has always required a civil service machine. One man's tale of triumph and disaster among the yes men and flatterers of the 11th century.

09Hong Xiuquan - The Rebel20121018

A 19th-century Christian king on the Yangtze. The Europeans joined forces against him, and nearly a 100 years later, it was another rebel who claimed to put China's people in power.

10 LASTOld Hundred Names - China's Citizens20121019

At best they have been taken for granted and sometimes they have endured far worse at the hands of China's governments and invaders alike. What voice for the Chinese public now?