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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2007, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
World Stories: Surviving the Century
First broadcast April 2007

A Mosuo woman

BBC World Service journalists come from every corner of the world. Balanced news reporting is their job - covering the news minute-by-minute is what drives them most of them time.

In this special series of programmes, ten BBC journalists tell stories that have a bigger message about life on our planet: emotive, human stories that humble us.

These world stories offer extraordinary insight across cultures. These are the stories our journalists have always wanted to tell.

Programme Three: Surviving the Century

Nestled at the foot of the Tibetan plateau, Lake Lugu, also known as the "Kingdom of daughters", is the home to 30,000 Mosuo people.

On the shores of Lake Lugu, the ancient people of Mosuo developed a culture that is shockingly different from the rest of China.

Here paternalistic family values are turned on their heads, women rule the roost and couples do not marry.

A book called "Leaving Mother Lake" written in 1997 by a young Mosuo woman Yang Erche Namu put the lake and her people on the tourist map.

Painted as this mysterious otherworldly paradise, tens of thousands of Chinese tourists flock to Lake Lugu every year for a glimpse of this small matrilineal society.

In this special programme, Haimo Li travels to China to find out how many traditional values the Mosuo have held onto, despite the invasion of tourism and popular culture.

What do the Mosuo themselves think about cultural preservation and getting their share of the 21st Century?

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