China’s Pollution Documentary “Under the Dome” Goes Viral

March 4, 2015 | By | Reply More
Chai Jing's January Talk on China's Air Pollution Featured in the Film

Chai Jing’s January Talk on China’s Air Pollution

Former state television reporter, Chai Jing, released the groundbreaking documentary highlighting China’s pollution entitled “Under The Dome.” Since its release on Saturday February 28, 2015 via Chinese video platforms such as Youku and Tencent, the film has had over 100 million views. Some have compared it to Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth.

Chai Jing is a famous journalist and a best-selling author that left her job at China Central Television last year after she gave birth to her first child. During her pregnancy she discovered that her daughter had a benign tumor and that she would need surgery after she was born. Although this tumor is unrelated to pollution, Chai Jing began to recognize the detrimental health effects pollution has had on her fellow citizens and could potentially have on her daughter.

This self-financed 103 minute film is framed with a talk Chai Jing gave in January on China’s increasingly vile air pollution, which includes numerous charts and statistics. In addition to the talk, the film includes on-the-ground interviews with children, factory workers, scientists and regulators among others.

The 39-year-old journalist who grew up in the coal mining dominated province Shanxi and has now spent over a decade in smoggy Beijing, also criticized China’s two most powerful state-owned oil companies. Despite this taboo in Chinese journalism, the state media is not just supporting the film but also promoting it. People’s Daily dedicated a special feature on its site and shared it on Weibo.

The release of this film comes at a convenient time. China’s two key political meetings are taking place this week in Beijing: the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. It is unclear if the timing of this film was intentional or not.  The newly appointed party chief of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Chen Jining, praised Chai’s documentary and said that it reminded him of Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring.

This is one of, if not the, first Chinese environmental documentary to have been recognized and supported by the state media. We can only hope that there will be an effective conversation regarding China’s air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions in the important political meetings this week in China.

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Category: China

About the Author ()

Pursuing a joint major in Environmental Policy and Mandarin Chinese at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont. Currently doing research on clean coal technology development in China.

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