Chai Jing, a respected Chinese investigative journalist, posted March 1 a 103-minute video about air pollution across China and especially in Beijing, where people usually have to wear air masks to move within the city.
The film called “Under the Dome – Investigating China’s Smog” was an instant hit with more than 150 million views within three days only in China. Many people felt inspired by the documentary, others were shocked to learn that the foggy atmosphere in the capital wasn’t a natural process, while others were outraged blaming the movie’ producer of taking a one-sided stance.
According to Ms. Chai, the film was funded entirely by using her personal funds (it cost nearly $160,000), and was an objective review on the smog in China and the way it affects millions of people living in the urban areas.
Having her newborn baby diagnosed with a tumor that required surgery right after birth was a wake-up call for Ms. Chai. She said that after the surgery she was afraid of taking her daughter out for a walk in Beijing without covering her face with a handkerchief.
Ms. Chai also recalled taking her baby out of the house only during the non-smog days which were few since in Beijing more than 175 days a year the sky is covered with a thick layer of toxic fumes and air particles.
In “Under the Dome”’s first minutes, Ms Chai interviews a 6-year-old from the province of Shanxi, one of the most polluted locations on Earth. When the little girl is asked whether she has ever seen the stars or the white clouds during summertime she quickly replies “No.”
But there are other key scenes in the documentary such as Ms. Chai’s brief interviews with local officials on the pollution issue. She also criticizes the way environmental regulations are enforced across the state. For instance, a state inspector acknowledges that a coal-burning steel plant was releasing alarming amounts of pollutants into the nearby streams, but fails to do anything about it in the following months.
When asked why he didn’t issue any fines, the inspector bluntly replied:
“It just doesn’t work to sacrifice employment for the environment.”
According to CCTV, the film was independently filmed by Ms. Chai, but nevertheless she was helped by her CCTV colleagues to produce it. Initially, the documentary was four hours long. So, a close friend to Ms.Chai suggested that it should be cut to 103 minutes.
However, before the release date, Ms. Chai sent the movie to the National People’s Congress, the Chinese parliament, for approval and feedback. According to its official media outlets, China is currently working on tightening the legislation on oil and gas industries.
Image Source: The Beacon Review
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