The Story of China

The Story of China

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 8:00pm - 10:00pm

Pictured: Host Michael Wood walks through Tiananmen Square.

Credit: Courtesy of Mick Duffield

The Story of China, premiering Tuesdays, June 20 to July 25, 2017 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV, is an unprecedented, six-part series exploring the 4,000-year history of China, home to more than a billion people and an emerging global superpower.

Host and historian Michael Wood, who brings a contagious curiosity to the series that is matched only by the warmth and enthusiasm of the Chinese people, suggests that to understand China today we must examine its past.

Produced by Maya Vision International, The Story of China takes viewers on an amazing journey deep into China’s breathtaking landscapes to find the people and stories that have helped create China’s distinctive character and genius for more than four millennia. Wood treks through the deserts of the Silk Road, visiting the ancient cities of Luoyang and Kaifeng, and to the modern metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai. This is China as rarely seen.

From the First Emperor to the Mongols and from the Opium Wars to the Communist Revolution, Wood paints vivid pictures of some of the great characters of Chinese history, not just emperors, but scientists, poets, rebels and novelists as well. Viewers meet the intrepid Buddhist traveler Xuanzang, the great woman poet Li Qingzhao, and Su Song — China’s Leonardo da Vinci. Wood captures the essence of key dynasties of China — from its first empire, the Shang, dating from 1500 B.C., through its last, the Qing, ruling from 1644 to 1911. The series concludes with the great rebellions of the 19th century that led to the rise of Mao Zedong and shows viewers the living culture of China today, from intimate family celebrations to vast communal rituals in the Yellow River plain.

Lik Hang Tsui, a post-doctoral fellow and historian now based at Harvard University, and who is featured in the series, recently said, “We’re dealing with a country with many contradictions. The Chinese people focus on their long history, but also try to modernize and adopt new ways of life. In The Story of China, we see these contradictions, which are among the forces that drive this country.”