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Documentary about air pollution in China goes viral

By JC Finley
Documentary about air pollution in China goes viral
Downtown Shanghai sits under a layer of pollution on Jan. 30, 2015. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

BEIJING, March 2 (UPI) -- A gripping new documentary about air pollution in China has gone viral, garnering more than 100 million views since it was published online Saturday.

Under the Dome was created by Chai Jing, a prominent Chinese journalist, who said she was inspired to produce the documentary after discovering she was pregnant.

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"I'd never felt afraid of pollution before, and never wore a mask no matter where," she says in the 104-minute video. "But when you carry a life in you, what she breathes, eats and drinks are all your responsibility, and then you feel the fear."

According to a study published in 2013, air pollution was responsible for 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010.

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Chai said it was "a personal grudge" that drove her year-long investigation into the root causes of China's pollution crisis. Her findings are presented through a combination of interviews, statistics and a keynote address given by Chai to a studio audience in Beijing in January.

The documentary, which has elicited comparisons to Al Gore's 2006 environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth, debuted Saturday on the People's Daily website, a mouthpiece of China's Community Party, and was also posted to various social media sites, including YouTube.

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China has recently taken steps to address its pollution problem as public pressure has mounted. Chai concludes her documentary by encouraging viewers to speak out against violators of anti-pollution laws. "This is how history is made. With thousands of ordinary people one day saying, 'No, I'm not satisfied, I don't want to wait... I want to stand up and do a little something."'

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