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Screening and Discussion Voices from the Frontline: Can China Eliminate Poverty?

Join the China Institute for a screening of a documentary highlighting China's poverty relief stories, followed by a discussion.

February 19, 2020 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Perhaps China’s greatest success in the past 40 years is lifting 800 million people out of poverty—after 30 years of devastating political upheaval. Beijing made an audacious pledge to totally eradicate poverty in China by 2020. What is China’s strategy, and how is the government dealing with a gaping new rich-poor divide? Come see a fascinating and poignant new documentary highlighting five poverty relief stories. The screening will be followed by a discussion with China Reform Friendship Medalist Robert Lawrence Kuhn, director Peter Getzels, and Wenyan Yang, United Nations development expert.

Speakers’ Bios

Peter Getzels is an Emmy Award-winning, producer/director and cinematographer. Currently he is co-creator of the long-running science and philosophy series, Closer To Truth, which is now in it’s 20th season on PBS. He comes to filmmaking as an anthropologist, explorer, and mountaineer. Getzels is noted for high-concept, cutting-edge films that have been distributed around the world. A seasoned filmmaker of observational narratives, he has worked in over 40 countries. Recent, award-winning theatrical documentaries include Zuzana: Music is Life, which was filmed in Prague and garnered two Best Documentary Audience Awards in LA and DC; The Penguin Counters, filmed in the Antarctic, also an Audience Award winner; and Harvest of Empire, which won Best of Independent Documentaries from Cine Golden Eagle, Best Documentary from the Imagen Foundation, and the ABC News Video Source Award from the IDA. Getzels has worked in China on many projects including Series Director/Producer of China’s Challenges With Robert Lawrence Kuhn (SMG), which won an Emmy in LA and twice won the China News Award. He has also produced and directed a feature-length documentary called Voices from the Frontlines: China’s War on Poverty, (co-produced by CGTN, and Kuhn Foundation), about China’s poverty alleviation initiative. A 60 min. version premiered on PBS SoCal in July 2019 and will be broadcast nationally on PBS stations in May 2020. Getzels has a BA in Anthropology & Comparative Religion (Bowdoin College), a M.Sc. in Anthropology (London School of Economics) and a MFA (National Film and TV School, England). In addition to running a boutique production company called Getzels Gordon Productions, Getzels has worked as staff producer in the BBC Science Department, as well as Staff Director and Series Producer at National Geographic.


Robert Lawrence Kuhn is a public intellectual and renowned China expert. He was awarded the “China Reform Friendship Medal” by President Xi Jinping on the 40th anniversary of China’s historic reform and opening up (December 2018). The medal honors 10 foreigners who contributed to China over the four decades; five are living; Dr. Kuhn is one of two Americans. He is a recipient of the Chinese Government Friendship Award (October 2019). For 30 years, Dr. Kuhn, with his long-time partner, Adam Zhu, has worked with China’s leaders and advised the Chinese government. He is a frequent commentator on CNN, BBC, CCTV, CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business, and a columnist in South China Morning Post and China Daily. He is the author of over 30 books, including How China’s Leaders Think (featuring President Xi Jinping) and The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin (China’s best-selling book of 2005). He is the host / co-producer of Closer to China with R.L.Kuhn (CGTN) on China politics, economics, society and foreign affairs, and host / writer of China’s Challenges (SMG) and Voices from the Frontlines: China’s War on Poverty. He is an international corporate strategist and investment banker; chairman of The Kuhn Foundation; and creator/writer/host of Closer To Truth, the long-running PBS / public TV series on science and philosophy. He has a Ph.D. in anatomy/brain research (UCLA) and an MBA (MIT).


Wenyan Yang is the Chief of Global Dialogue on Social Development Branch in the Division for Inclusive Social Development of UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. She is the Division’s focal point coordinating the support to the UN Commission for Social Development and supervises the preparation of the department flagship publication World Social Report.. She has many years of experience in social and economic policy analysis, and in providing substantive and technical support to UN inter-governmental bodies. Her recent work has focused on poverty, inequality, decent work and social protection, and inclusive development. Previously Yang worked on gender issues in the Division for the Advancement of Women. Currently she is the Principle Gender Focal Point of her department. She started her UN career as an economic affairs officer in the Macroeconomic and Development Policy Analysis Division, where she contributed to the major departmental publication World Economic and Social Survey and was part of the Secretariat to the ECOSOC expert body Committee for Development Policy, with the main responsibility to provide technical analysis for the Committee’s work reviewing the inclusion in and graduation from the list of Least Developed Countries


Dexter Tiff Roberts is an award-winning journalist and speaker now serving as a Fellow at the University of Montana’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center. He is a regular commentator on the U.S.-China trade and political relationship. Previously he was China bureau chief and Asia News Editor at Bloomberg Businessweek, based in Beijing for more than two decades. He has reported from all of China’s provinces and regions including Tibet and Xinjiang, covering the rise of companies and entrepreneurs, manufacturing and migrants, demography and civil society. He has also reported from North Korea, Mongolia and Cambodia, on China’s growing economic and political influence. His recent reporting has focused on how legacy policies from China’s past, including its household registration system, are leading to growing inequality and social tension, and are holding back the country’s development. Roberts’ first book, The Myth of Chinese Capitalism: The Worker, the Factory, and the Future of the World, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in March 2020. He has a BA from from Stanford and MIA from Columbia University.



March 2, 2020 - 5:00pm
Los Angeles, California

Please join the USC U.S.-China Institute for a talk with Teng Biao, a legal scholar and well-known human rights activist. 

April 9, 2020 - 4:00pm
Los Angeles, California

Please join the USC U.S.-China Institute for a talk with Julia Strauss on her new book, which focuses on the period 1949 to 1954 and compares how the Communist Party in China and the Nationalist Party in Taiwan sought to consolidate their authority and foster economic development.