Documentary navigates China's long road to progress

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A still from the documentary Navigating to the Future, shows staff at the intellectual property protection center in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, using patent certificates to establish which of two seemingly identical items of clothing is genuine and which is counterfeit. [China Daily]

In many ways, national highways are the arteries of a nation, as they form a network of interconnected routes that facilitate the flow of resources and people that keep the country moving.

Being one of the longest highways in China, the G318, which stretches over 5,476 kilometers from Shanghai in the east to the Tibet autonomous region in the west, is arguably one of the most important in the country.

Along the route there are diverse landforms, spectacular natural wonders, as well as myriad customs, cultures and traditions, each one revealing another layer of the country's deep foundations.

A recently released documentary, Navigating to the Future, zooms in on the map to delve into the detailed stories of city dwellers and villagers that are connected by G318, offering viewers a glimpse into China's economic growth, social changes, cultural diversity and technological advancements.

"Traveling across the country on the route, one can not only be treated to a stunning array of landscapes, but can trace the evolution of modern Chinese civilization, which presents a panoramic, multidimensional portrayal of China's dynamic progress," says Sun Lu, the documentary's executive chief director, who explains why the team chose G318 as a geographical starting point from which to explore such stories.

Following the steps of a virtual host, named Hua Xiaoxia, the five-episode documentary takes a multifaceted approach to explore progress that China has made in market regulation, rural development, urban management, social governance and ethnic affairs governance.

For instance, at Hua's stop in Anhui province's Dongdao village, viewers see the villagers engage in discussions and the resolution of village affairs during a meeting. All residents are encouraged to attend and freely express their opinions, with the option to raise their hand to support a particular motion. The village's basic infrastructure, including the gatehouse, streetlights and basketball court, was all constructed as a result of this democratic process.

"Unified action by villagers can create tremendous momentum. When their hearts are invested, their efforts will bear fruit. By taking the initiative, they can bring positive changes to their community," says Li Kewen, director of Dongdao's village committee.

In Wanjian village, Anhui province, viewers see how the ancient settlement, which was founded in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), has been transformed into a tourist attraction boasting renovated residential houses, a library, a museum, an activity center for elders and a tourist service center.

"The villagers were truly happy, making it easy for us to capture the sincere smiles on their faces," recalls Sun.

Additionally, the documentary also casts light on food safety measures taken by Huzhou, Zhejiang province; the urban traffic management system in Wuhan, Hubei province; the ecological protection efforts made by Sichuan province and the construction of 5G base stations in Lhasa, Tibet.

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