Is a new wave of innovators and entrepreneurs transforming China, and the world?

In China’s Tech Revolution, presenter Reggie Yates travels to Shenzhen, China’s ‘City of the Future’ in this revealing documentary. He visits the people at the forefront of the modern nation at a time of enormous change. “They say if you want to see the future of the human race, you wanna come here,” he says.

In just over four decades, Shenzhen has gone from farmland and fishing villages, home to just 30,000 people, to a teeming metropolis of over 12 million, and the epicentre of China’s tech revolution. Reggie delves into the city’s short but extraordinary history and meets the inventors and innovators who arrive from all over the world looking to make their fortunes in the tech gold rush. If you can dream it up, you can develop and make it in Shenzhen. The array of gadgets inspired by science fiction includes voice-assisted glasses, ping-pong playing robots, and translation earpieces.

Some inventors are even taking to the skies to revolutionise everyday life; inventor Zhao Deli gives Reggie a demonstration of his ‘Magical Cloud’ - a genuine flying motorbike and another startling example of science fiction becoming reality. And Reggie visits a restaurant that now delivers hot food to customers via drone.

Reggie also sees that progress comes at a price - he meets Nigel, who works for a drone company and describes ‘996 life’ – working from 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week. For Reggie an uneasy relationship between innovation and freedom runs through this city: China is investing heavily in artificial intelligence, and facial recognition technology combined with CCTV to monitor public areas such as shopping centres, and even to deliver real-time reprimands to jay-walkers on the streets. In some cases, this saves lives – such as the AI that monitors the fatigue levels of commercial lorry drivers – but all this data, resting in the hands of a one-party state can feel unnerving.

 

Credits (Click to expand)

Presented by

REGGIE YATES

Archive

AP ARCHIVE

CONTEMPORARY FILMS

GETTY IMAGES

POND 5

SCREENOCEAN / REUTERS

Archive Producer

FRAN ROWLATT-MCCORMICK

Graphics

PEEPSHOW COLLECTIVE

Post Production

THE FARM

Online Editor

TOM LUCAS

Colourist

WILL COKER

Dubbing Mixer

GARY KELLY

Additional Editing

TOM HERINGTON

HANNAH BRIERE-EDNEY

Fixer

LIPING PAN

China Producers

DILLON XIANG

WENDY TENG

Production Secretary

BRIONY JONES

Junior Production Manager

SHARI DE SILVA

Production Manager

TOM CROSS

Production Executive

SORAYA AHMED

Head of Production

PETER BADCOCK

Commissioning Editors for the BBC

HAMISH FERGUSSON

EMILY SMITH

Producer

SOPHIA LIGHTFOOT

Series Director

SAM WILKINSON

Film Editor

KATE SPANKIE

Executive Producers

CLARE HANDFORD

DAVID GLOVER

JOHN DOUGLAS

for BBC

© 72 Films Limited MMXIX

Distributed by BBC STUDIOS