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Archive for Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Primetime’ explores China’s global reach

August 6, 2008

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Bob Woodruff hosts "China Inside Out," a "Primetime" (9 p.m., ABC) special about the growing influence of the world's most populous country and dynamic economy.

Woodruff, who began his career as a journalist translating for American news organizations in Beijing, travels all over the world to document China's expanding influence. As the title states, this is "China Inside Out." Most of the report takes place outside of that country.

Woodruff begins in Angola, where China has invested billions in roads, schools and bridges in exchange for a foothold in that nation's vast oil reserves. As Chinese diplomats observe delicately, Western nations, particularly Britain and the United States, have been pumping oil in Angola for decades, but they have not done much to help the people. Woodruff counters that China's influence in Africa often means making deals with corrupt elites, as they have in Sudan, home to the Darfur genocide.

Speaking fluent Mandarin, Woodruff meets with Chinese investors in Brazil, where Chinese demand for soybeans and other crops have made that South American nation a growing agricultural superpower. As one Chinese official observes: "We have 1.3 billion people to feed. Three times a day."

The amount of resources required to fuel China's growing economy and ever-expanding affluence is staggering and worrisome to those trying to protect Brazil's rain forest from rapid destruction. It has been said that if the Chinese were ever to consume at the same rate as Americans, they would require a whole new planet to sustain them.

Woodruff wraps up his story in the United States, a nation that depends on China and vice versa. China needs Americans to consume its products, and Americans need the Chinese to finance the debt we run up buying more than we can afford. It's a delicate relationship.

¢ The participants in "Baby Borrowers" (8 p.m., NBC) engage in a town-hall-style meeting to discuss the things they have learned. Dr. Drew Pinsky presides.

¢ Phil LeBeau hosts the one-hour special "Saving General Motors" (8 p.m., CNBC), a look at the struggles of America's largest car-maker and one of its biggest employers. On the eve of the company's 100th birthday, GM has seen its market share drop and its profits plummet.

"Saving" looks at efforts by GM's new management to turn things around and showcases success stories, like GM's growing reputation overseas. Buicks may not be considered trendy here, but in China the brand has become a status symbol.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ Cuts are made on part one of the two-part season finale of "So You Think You Can Dance" (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ Without anyone in particular to root for, "Project Runway" (8 p.m., Bravo) appears to be coasting through its final season on Bravo.

¢ Tonight's "Mythbusters" (8 p.m., Discovery), the first of 11 new episodes, looks at attempts to tenderize meat using dynamite.

¢ Horror movies and campfire stories on "Scare Tactics" (9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Sci Fi).

¢ The documentary series "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Dallas Cowboys" (9 p.m., HBO) follows the team through the preseason practice and exhibition schedule.

Cult choice

A 24-hour salute to the films of Anne Bancroft includes the 1967 comedy "The Graduate" (9 p.m., TCM).

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