The government of China has imposed a ban on a documentary that it initially cheered and seemed to support — and it may have to do with the movie’s popularity.
Bloomberg reports that China banned the environmental documentary “Under the Dome.” “The surprise is that it took the authorities so long to do it,” Bloomberg reports. “The film, which exposes the tremendous damage China’s heavy industry has done to the environment, and the powerlessness of the Ministry of Environmental Protection to enforce antipollution laws, attracted 200 million viewers in the week after it was released on the Internet for free on Feb. 28.”
The movie comes from Chai Jing, a former TV reporter and respected investigative journalist.
“Environment officials at first praised Chai’s chilling account, and state-owned media said the film was a wake-up call,” the report notes, adding: “On March 7, ‘Under the Dome’ disappeared from the Chinese Web. It was abruptly removed from file-sharing sites, and references to the film in state-run media ceased.”
The report quotes Chinese filmmaker Hao Wu, a fellow at the Washington-based New America Foundation, saying Chai’s film “really pointed fingers at the lack of regulatory enforcement on the government’s part. It was confrontational and cathartic. She was able to do what we cannot do: Go to government and say, ‘Here’s what you have done wrong.’”
Wu indicated that the shift in position hints at discord within the government.
Said Wu: “It’s a reflection of some kind of political infighting that they chose to shut it down.”
The movie, however, has reportedly already gone viral in China and may now become even more popular.
Environmental activist Wen Bo, who advises the National Geographic Air and Water Conservation Fund, said: “Many people have saved the file, and there are ways to watch it if someone tries to search for it. In today’s world, information spreads really fast. Preventing the free flow of information can really backfire.”