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tv   Asia Insight  PBS  October 18, 2017 6:30pm-7:01pm PDT

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♪ in chongquing, chooinch china, there are group s of carriers called bang bangs. from the word pole. they were given this name because they carry anything using just one pole over their
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shoulders. the bang bang have always been a vital part of people's lives here. in a city so full of hills and narrow roads, bang bangs have carried many loads for residents. now they are on the verge of disappearing. >> chongquing used to have 500,000 of these carriers but as the city has become developed, they're steadily disappearing. this episode follows the end of their legacy.
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the chongquing river is the largest in asia. located upstream, it's developed into a major port for river transport. chongquing is a directly controlled municipality of china, along with beijing and shanghai. it used to be a part of szechwan province but given its current designation as part of an effort to develop innercities that had fallen behind coastal regions due to the effects of reform policies. recently chongquing has been further developed as a hub connecting china and europe. thanks to those efforts it am joyed an 11% growth last year, the largest in china.
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the city is undergoing numerous nation wide development plans. older buildings still exist in the center of the city. built on a hilly region, flat land is scarce. buildings are conducted on slopes and there are steps everywhere.
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>> dai has been working as a bang bang since migrating here at the age of 15. he knows every bang bang in town. but in the past few years a lot of his peers have quit the profession and left town. >> the village where dai lives
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has been designated for redevelopment. residents are decreasing in number. other man moving related jobs, dai's work load has dropped to below half of that from a year ago. to increase his earnings, he began buying people's old tools and selling them to tool shops. being in his 50s, he can't imagine changing jobs. bang bangs rely solely on their strength, earning up to only $30 u.s. dollar as day no matter how hard they work. despite these conditions he's worked nonstop and bought a home for his family. on this day dai carried ward robe chests and a stone mortar that his friend gave him for free.
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unable to sdwluj value, he settles for whatever price the store's offering. >> dai received $20 for the two items, much higher than he had expected but he didn't get any delivery jobs that day. there is no guarantee he will find work the next day either.
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>> the town that he has worked in for 35 years is disappearing. and he hasn't decided where he'll move to. on the walls of emptied homes is a slogan urging people to move. above a building being taken down a drone hovers.
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>> he showed us footage that he took with the drone. some 30,000 people once lived downtown. many street vendors used to line the narrow traditional streets, drawing crowds all day. bang bangs carried heavy luggage
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through those crowds. when all the buildings are taken down, this area is scheduled to become a commercial district. roads wide enough for cars will be built, reducing the need for bang bangs. however there is a place where many bang bangs do get work. the fruit and vegetable market in the center of town. z h zhou became a bang bang when he
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migrated here from a village in the szechwan province. he delivers fresh produce. ♪ his job begins waiting for the delivery door to open. he'll be carrying one ton of bean sprouts to five stores by 6:00 a.m. joe makes about $7 for this job. it's not much but it's guaranteed income. he can't afford to lose this job.
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for one delivery two people carry two buckets equaling about a hundred kilogram. from the entrance of the market to the back of the store is about 100 meters. there are stores on the second floor as well. joe delivers to every single store.
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>> the more deliveries t more it leaves him out of breath with a pained expression. two 1/2 hours after the job began joe finishes delivering the bean sprouts. he never once took a break. slightly past 6:00 a.m. as the market opens, joe's next job begins.
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most early morning shoppers are working in the dining industry. joe takes orders from them and carries goods to the parking lot or to nearby stores. female bang bangs which are hardly seen anymore can be found working at this market. each delivery costs about a dollar. how many deliveries can be made depends largely on how many times they can move through the crowd. every bang bang is eager to do as many rounds as possible. amidst this competition joe takes on long-distance deliveries that other bang bangs avoid. obviously this means less income for him but he wants to mead the needs of people who request his help.
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aabove all he feels the role of a bang bang is to meet the customer's needs. >> joe has lunch around 11:00 a.m. he says he eats lunch at the same diner every day. he orders a cup of rice porridge for 7 cents. he says eating anymore will make
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him sick during work. after a light lunch, joe completes three more deliveries. he gets home around 2:00 p.m. joe lives in an apartment about five minutes by foot from the market. he lived here with his wife, son and daughter until two years ago. but his life changed greatly in this past year. his daughter graduated high school and left for vocational school. his son, who work s at a construction site got married so now he lives with his daughter in law. this year joe and his wife got their much wanted grandchild.
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they aren't wealthy but they can get by together as a family.
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>> joe goes back to the market at 5:00 p.m. and carries goods until 9:00 p.m. despite this exhausting work load he makes just $15 a day.
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one founded a company with 20 bang bangs 18 years ago. he had come to chongquing to pursue literature. he only became a bang bang to make a living. but as he learned of the harsh work conditions of his peers, he called on friends in hopes of improving the livelihood and social status of bang bangs. his company was the first one founded by bang bangs. the media jumped on the story which help under crease work for them. in just three years he was able to buy his own office.
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>> but when the media buzz faded, work for bang bangs decreased, sales eventually declined. >> he decided to give up his job as a bang bang and make an effort to start a full scale transportation business. some 20 men debated the plan numerous times in this room.
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>> he kept the company named bang bang and obtained a truck instead of a pole. truck delivery is completely different from being a bang bang. so he had to start from scratch.
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some of his staff began complaining about the unfamiliar work and quitting. but he by bit. now his transportation company has green large enough to move the offices of major companies. this is a business district of chongquing. he opened a new office here in hopes of expanding his business. he now has doubled his original staff to over 50 employees. he's working towards the 20th anniversary of his company's founding. he plans to make a museum displaying books, photographs, and movies about bang bangs.
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he also intends to collect actual poles used by bang bangs. >> he hopes to display poles that saw extensive use. today he heads to a place where he used to come in search of work as a bang bang. he says it looks nothing like it was before. he came here hoping that bang bangs would give them their old
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poles. but there are no bang bangs in sight. the only people here are shoppers and tourists.
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>> the poles are like partners for bang bangs. the longer they use them, the more memories they carry. they can't easily let go of them. >> he believes that profession of the bang bang is destined to fade away.
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♪ >> with heavy poles digging into their shoulders, the bang bangs climb hills and weave through back alleys. there are said to be around 3,000 left. most all in their 50s.
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by 2017 the city of a chongquing will have spent $10 billion on urban redevelopment, aiming to improve functionality. narrow streets will soon be a thing of the past. and when the city has been transformed, what will be left for the bang bangs to carry? and where will they go?
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hello and welcome to nhk "newsline," i'm keiko kitagawa in tokyo. developments at the chinese communist party national congress are suggesting that president xi jinping's grip on power will be cemented after having guiding principles. xi promoted a modern vision of socialism that he says will lead china into a new era.

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