At best they have been taken for granted and sometimes they have endured far worse at the hands of China's governments and invaders alike. What voice for the Chinese public now?
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See all episodes from China: As History Is My Witness
How Kublai Khan, the man from Mongolia, beat the odds and conquered the south.
Exploring why China's children still quote two drunkard poets from the 8th Century.
Class war in 11th Century China: the rise and fall of a brilliant bureaucrat.
See all broadcasts of Old Hundred Names - China's Citizens (1)
A selection of programmes and clips relating to China.