China, the Mandate of Heaven

The influence of the past is so strong in Chinese society, Wood claims, that just when modern Chinese think they have gotten out of its grasp it pulls them back. As in the other segments of the series, the West is represented as a powerful agent in the modern world, whereas it is implied that non-Western societies' full integration into the modern world is hampered by their retention of traditional practices and philosophies. Throughout the series, "modern" seems to refer not to the twentieth century itself, but to economies, technologies and types of social organization (e.g. capitalism, computers, and multinational corporations) that have been cultivated in the twentieth century by powerful entities such as the West and Japan. Although the series may succeed in dispelling notions of the inherent superiority or inferiority of particular societies, its specific use of the term modern makes it difficult for viewers to escape the patronizing notion that many nations today lag behind the West and need the West to modernize or develop.

Film Duration: 50 min