On February 28th, an online documentary discussing the smog in China was released and stirred intense debate across the country. Within just one day, there were over 100 million views. Regardless of socio-economic background, the topic of air quality concerns everyone in China and so the topic of this film hit home for many of the viewers. This documentary discusses the cause of the smog, the resulting damages, and the actions we must take to prevent further damage.
Immediately after the film was released, there was a wide spectrum of commentary published online regarding the content of the film as well as the personal life of Chai Jing, the filmmaker. Below is a roundup of articles that highlights the diverse response to the documentary:
This article is one of the more well-written objective pieces that supports the film. While Mu Yao respects and aligns himself with Chai Jing, he does point out issues with the movie.
Many environmental protection nonprofit organizations were excited when this film was released. The general public currently lacks in-depth knowledge in regards to China’s social sector. Most of the data from the film was sourced from information collected by environmental NPOs and so these organizations are using the popularity of the film and the public debates surrounding the topic to increase awareness regarding their work and environmental protection.
Many viewers questioned the motivation behind Chai Jing’s investigation. In the film, Chai Jing implies the reason why she kept her daughter confined to her home and the cause of her daughter’s disease is because of the heavy pollution in their home city of Beijing. However, it was discovered that her daughter was actually born in the United States and Chai Jing, herself, is a smoker. There were also cause for concern over Chai Jing’s car which has more exhaust discharge compared to the average car.
Some experts say that some of the data in the documentary was misused to misrepresent the situation and purposefully lead viewers to the wrong conclusion.
There have even been more extreme articles published like this one expressing the belief of one member of the media who thinks Chai Jing and her film are merely puppets for a political power.
For those who want to take action, there are ways the public can help combat the smog crisis:
This phone number and app allows you to report polluters anonymously.
If you want more information regarding environmental protection in China, these organizations can provide support:
These organizations can provide general information or if you are interested in becoming more involved, you can make a donation or become a volunteer.