Michael Wood visits Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel, jewel of the Jazz age, and follows Mao on the Long March to Yan'an, the base of the communist revolution. He meets a survivor of the Japanese massacre of Nanjing, describes the communist victory, and ends with Mao's death and the boom time of the last thirty years. The series ends as it began at home with the warmth of the Chinese family.
In the 18th century China was the biggest economy in the world, and with that prosperity came a fabulously rich culture. From China's favourite novel, to opera and storytelling houses, and all-women's mosques, it's an age full of surprises. But then came the fateful clash with the British in the First Opium War, the beginning of the end of the empire.
In Nanjing Michael Wood sees the building of a huge replica of a Ming ocean-going junk. In Suzhou the 'Venice of China', he explores the silk industry, ceramics and lacquer-making, and visits one of China's most beautiful gardens. Then in Macao, the arrival of Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci begins China's fateful modern exchanges with the West.
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