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tv   Asia Insight  PBS  July 29, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm PDT

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. shanghai, china. news hit from around the world that a group of young models staged a demonstration on the streets this spring.
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dressed in rags as homeless people, their signs protest the shanghai auto show's decision to ban models. it started when chinese president xi jinping expressed concerns that a culture of vaal vulgarity was tooking root in the country. industries began implementing self regulations with the shanghai auto show suddenly cancelling the use of models at booths.
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>> china held its first-ever auto show in the 1980s. it was a time when owning a private car was beyond most citizen's dreams. the exhibitors mostly targeted businesses looking for commercial vehicles. and also promoted car parts and new technologies. thanks to economic growth, auto shows are now completely different. these days, the chinese own more than 150 million cars, 15% of the world's total. modelling at the shows has become a dream for many young women.
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over the past several years, they have dressed mostly in revealing outfits. smaller car makers came up with the strategy in order to stand out as they can't compete with major firms. some models even began bringing their own wear as a way to promote themselves. but voices of disapproval are getting louder, leading to self regulation by the industry. the president's comments could lead to the demise of auto show models altogether. shanghai is the economic center of china, and a city where show business has always shined.
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ever since the days when it was called the paris of the east, it's where fashion trends begin. more than 40% of shanghai's 25 million population are from other parts of china. youngsters with big hopes and dreams flock to the city. the old french settlement part is home to the headquarters of one of china's top modelling agencies. esee model management will has branched in five other parts of the country. they currently have 300 models on their books. they include nonchinese from around 20 different
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models in china are all considered the same, and are sent on various assignments. everything from auto shows to fashion shoots. this is due to the fact that the industry is only 20 years old.
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>> esee was founded in 2004, at a time when there were very few modelling agencies in china. they've gone from just three employees to more than 160, taking advantage of the growing advertising market. esee has discovered and trained super models who work for premium clients around the world, but they still take on small projects.
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the president lives by a simple motto, do your best on any assignment. >> before launching the agency, zheng worked at a cosmetics firm. the need for models soon became apparent. the scale of he is schedule and volume steadily increased.is sc volume steadily increased.
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>> zheng set clear guidelines for wages and work hours for all miss models. he has earned the trust of many of his overseas clients.
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for some projects, freelance photographers are brought in. >> now i want to know -- cop saturday, very early morning. >> okay. >> maybe 5:00. maybe 6:00. >> it's outside, right. >> it's outside, but i need to start quite early. >> okay. okay. >> and you have my budget? >> yes. >> you are very responsive, quick, and choice, perfect. >> thank you. >> the shanghai international automobile industry exhibition is a huge event held every other year. it's one of the three biggest auto shows in china. the venue for this year has changed, and boasts 70,000 square meters of space.
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since banning models altogether, female guides who explain about the cars are now being used. some 2,000 companies exhibited their products with more than 1,300 vehicles on display. one model was initially booked to work at the show, but was canceled at the last minute. the ao wan joon modelled there before and this was supposed to be her second time. before debuting as a model in 2011. she often took part in beauty pageants, always ranking very high. modelling at one of china's biggest auto shows was the chance of a lifetime.
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>> a contract for a modelling job at the shanghai auto show is usually worked around 6,000 u.s. dollars. but what hurt her more was losing a chance to work on one of the most sought-after stages in china. the self regulation by the auto industry has drastically changed the way models are perceived. their once glamorous and sophisticated image has taken a hard hit. and their status is now very low. the shanghai institute of visual art is one of the top art schools in china.
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around 4,000 students choose from 38 majors, including performing arts and fashion design. there is also a major called fashion show and promotion, where students can do modelling and learn about the industry.
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>> one of the school's main selling points is that it invites international artists and designers to give practical classes. these teachers are fashion designers from the u.k.
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>> if there is any real disaster, talk to a member of staff. >> first-year students design clothes over six months and share their creations with students in the fashion show and promotion department for an end-of-term show. if their designs are deemed marketable, they can actually hit the stores. the end-of-term show is a major event for the school. designers and people from the fashion world always attend. it's a chance for students who want to pursue a career in modelling to be discovered. if they can make it, it's extremely competitive, though,
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roughly 20,000 people debut as models in china each year, and less than ten will go on to work as top models. meanwhile, the aowan joon has been offered a job at another auto show in the southern city of schenn gin. the organizers announced that it will hire models as it always has, but has set some new conditions. the ao is sharing the good news with her friend.
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>> she is looking forward to appearing at the auto show with more than 1,000 models.
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the auto show is being held for the 19th time this year, and ranks just below the three largest shows in china. the scale is one-third of of the shanghai auto show. but many auto makers from china and overseas are taking part. the pr director has been involved in auto shows for over ten years. he and the organizers debated for long hours on whether to employ models following the banning decision by the shanghai show. they eventually decided on new basic regulation with automakers -- no scantily-clad
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women. >> he hopes that the nine-day exhibition will be a family-friendly event that appeals to everyone. esee, the model agency, is also trying to revive the image of models with a new project.
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>> it formed an idol group made up of seven of its girls. ♪ >> they are all in their early 20s and call themselves aio. when the girls aren't performing, they are fashion models, appearing in magazines and on the catwalk. their aim is to create more awareness of the work models do.
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the group only debuted in may but are already fully booked for the next three months. >> the pr rep has similar feelings. he wants people to consider the inner beauty of models and not just consider them as advertising accessories.
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three days before the auto show opening models from all over china arrive in shenzhen. tao has just arrived in the city, too, and heads straight to rehearsals. filming during the preparatory stages wasn't permitted. this year, ten new regulations were implemented. clothing worn by models must be checked beforehand. models must submit their resumes. objects that can be considered vulgar are forbidden, and so on. companies who violate the new rules are fined and forbidden from participating from next year onward.
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it's the first day of the show. people begin arriving. the goal this year is to attract over 700,000 people, 10,000 more than last year. the organizers have widely announced through the media that models will be there. if the number of attendees doesn't increase, it will mean their plan has failed. the models know it's a significant occasion. they spend about two hours preparing their hair and make up. their outfits have been provided by the automakers. they want to send out an image which is smart, clean, and pure.
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♪ >> the models are back. on stages all over the venue, special performances get underway. each exhibitor competes to offer something fun and interesting. the concept is to highlight the beauty of the cars through the models' performances. tao takes to the stage.
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she's required to do four 40-minute performances a day. always looking elegant, and with a smile on her face, she has to keep it up for nine straight days. the work of a model isn't as fun and easy as often perceived.
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>> the shenzhen auto show was a great you can cess. the attendance was an increase of over 40,000 from the previous year. self regulations are more prevalent in china. maybe it's this pressure from the governments that forcing companies to become more prevalent and resourceful.
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