BEIJING — Public revulsion over China’s putrid air has been mounting for years, and now the country might have its gotten its own version of “An Inconvenient Truth.”
In a new documentary titled “Under the Dome,” one of the country’s most famous journalists reveals the dire state of air pollution in China and issues a searing indictment of the hapless bureaucracies that she says have crippled environmental enforcement.
The 104-minute film was released online on Saturday, and has already racked up over 100 million hits on Chinese video sites.
In the film, investigative reporter Chai Jing weaves together her personal struggle to protect her newborn daughter from pollution with broader investigative probes of the country’s coal, steel and oil industries. The documentary bears similarities to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”: Chai, like Gore, uses a multimedia PowerPoint presentation to explain the science, economics and politics of China’s pollution crisis.
In “Under the Dome,” Chai interviews one MEP official in charge of environmental enforcement of steel factories in Hebei Province, which neighbors Beijing and is home to seven of China’s ten most polluted cities.
“Why can’t you just close [the polluting factories] down?” Chai asks.
“You’ve got to be joking,” replies Xiong Yuehui. “Each 10 million tons of steel are responsible for 100,000 jobs. What level has steel production in Hebei gotten to? It’s gotten to the level where you can’t simply ban it.”
Wayne Chang contributed research from Hong Kong.