While the citizenry of America remains transfixed by the ever-changing color of some Scottish wedding dress; this weekend saw an even more massively viral social media phenomenon as tens of millions of Chinese watched, gripped and outraged, a 104-minute video entitled "Under The Dome" exposing the ugly truth about Chinese air pollution. What is perhaps most stunning - aside from the fact that something so 'important' can go viral without Kim Kardashian's ass all over it - is that the Chinese government, so far, has not shut off the documentary, and recently appointed minister of environmental protection, Chen Jining, even praised the video; suggesting a growing conflict between Beijing and the Chinese industrial complex.
Full documentary here - with English subtitles (with over 35 million views since its release yesterday on YouKu)
As The NY Times reports, the documentary, funded and narrated by a former Chinese TV reporter, recounts her journey of discovery, hunting for the sources of China’s bad air and inquiring why repeated government promises have done so little to clear it up, while coping with a daughter born with a tumor...
[In 2013], she did not pay much attention to the smog engulfing much of China and affecting 600 million people, even as she traveled for work from place to place where the air was acrid with fumes and dust.
“But,” Ms. Chai says with a pause, “when I returned to Beijing, I learned that I was pregnant.”
Since its online debut on Saturday, Ms. Chai’s documentary, “Under the Dome,” has inspired an unusually passionate eruption of public and mass media discussion. Many messages were from Chinese parents identifying with Ms. Chai’s fears that pollution has imperiled their children’s health.
“When I heard her heart beating, the only thing I wished for her was good health,” Ms. Chai explains of her then-unborn daughter in the documentary.
“But she was diagnosed with a benign tumor and had to have surgery after birth,” she adds. “I’d never felt afraid of pollution before, and never wore a mask no matter where. But when you carry a life in you, what she breathes, eats and drinks are all your responsibility, and then you feel the fear.”
On Youku, a popular Chinese video-sharing site, “Under the Dome” had been played more than 14 million times by Sunday afternoon. The Paper, a Chinese news website, estimated that by Saturday night, the documentary had been opened more than 35 million times across various websites.
Many Chinese viewers praised Ms. Chai for forthrightly condemning the skein of industrial interests, energy conglomerates and bureaucratic hurdles that she says have obstructed stronger action against pollution.
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While the documentary has gripped almost 40 million Chinese so far, what is perhaps more intriguing is that the Chinese government has not shut it down yet...
So far at least, the government has not shut off the documentary, and some officials may welcome the chance to build greater support for cutting pollution. The website of People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s main newspaper, was one of the first to post “Under the Dome.” And the recently appointed minister of environmental protection, Chen Jining, praised the video. He told Sina.com, a Chinese website, that he had watched it and sent a message to Ms. Chai.
“Chai Jing’s documentary calls for public environmental consciousness from the standpoint of public health,” Mr. Chen said. “It deserves admiration.”
Does this suggest there is a growing conflict between Beijing and the Chinese Industrial Complex (as the corruption probe grows and impacts multiple industries). Further, this of course, means even more Chinese growth slowdown if and when there is a crackdown on pollution/rampant industrialization.