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Film Gets Chinese Government Talking About Smog


Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang answers a reporter's question at the end of the National People's Congress in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang answers a reporter's question at the end of the National People's Congress in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)


The documentary “Under the Dome” went viral online just before Chinese lawmakers opened their yearly meeting. The film examines the health effects of China’s massive air pollution, or smog, problem. It also presents the difficulties environmental officials face in enforcing laws.

But one day after the National People’s Congress opened, the government ordered the film be removed from the Internet.

About 200 million people had already seen “Under the Dome,” however. China's newly appointed environment minister had even praised the film. And, the general message of “Under the Dome” appears to fit well with efforts officials are making to deal with the problem. It is not clear why officials blocked the film.

State-run businesses part of the problem?

A former reporter for China’s state-run television, Chai Jing, produced the documentary. It argues that state-run businesses, especially energy companies, are part of China’s pollution problem.

At the end of the National People’s Congress meeting, a reporter asked Prime Minister Li Keqiang whether he thought the film was correct. Are big oil companies barriers to environmental law enforcement?

Mr. Li said under this year's Environmental Protection Law officials are committed to taking legal action against those who add to the pollution problem.

He said anyone involved in acts of illegal production and emissions will be brought to justice. He said the government must make businesses that illegally emit and dump pay a price too heavy to accept.

Others comment on the film

Others also commented on the film before it was banned, including former basketball star Yao Ming. Mr. Yao served as a representative at the legislative meetings. He said he had watched the film and was thankful for the information film producer Chai Jing made public. He said the film expressed the feelings in many people’s hearts.

A respiratory expert and representative at the legislative meetings also spoke to VOA about “Under the Dome.” Zhong Nanshan said Chai Jing’s film takes a good look at where smog comes from, how harmful it is and the efforts being taken to deal with it.

Previously, Mr. Zhong said that China’s smog is an even scarier problem than the serious illness SARS.

I’m Caty Weaver.

VOA correspondent Bill Ide reported this story from Beijing. Caty Weaver wrote it for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

smog n. fog mixed with smoke: a cloud of dirty air from cars, factories, etc., that is usually found in cities

determined adj. having a strong feeling that you are going to do something and that you will not permit anyone or anything to stop you

committed adj. willing to give your time, energy, etc., to something

dump v. to get rid of (waste or garbage) especially in a secret and illegal way

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