China on Four Wheels is a 2012 BBC documentary which sees Anita Rani and Justin Rowlatt embark on two separate road trips across China to explore how the countries economic growth, fueled partly by the growth of the car industry, is affecting peoples lives both positively and negatively. The series is one of several presented by the pair which take a similar format, it was preceded by India on Four Wheels (2011) and followed by Russia on Four Wheels (2014).
The pair each take very different routes and therefore have differing experiences on the way, she drives through several industrialized cities in the East and meets with billionaire owners of super cars in Beijing and trails a convoy of self-driving holiday makers making a sacred journey to Mount Tai. In the second episode she travels through some of China’s most luxurious cities, the homes of the rich, and joins a wealthy young couple at their extravagant wedding ceremony.
Rowlatt meanwhile drives an old bread van through impoverished rural regions and discovers a world where donkeys are still more common than cars, visits the ghost city of Ordos and puts his bread van through its paces on a famous Chinese racing track. In the second episode he embarks on a long journey down neglected potholed roads and explores the difficult lives of farmers from the Miao ethnic minority. Ultimately the pair lift on the lid on a country which is growing so fast that it is unable to prevent a subsequent fast growing inequality between rich and poor.