Chai Jing and team, take a bow. Under The Dome was a bold, brave, well researched and magnificently delivered documentary that pulled out all the artillery in the war against China’s deadly pollution. Whilst it follows a similar mould to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, Chai’s 104 minute film is rawer, harder to dispute and much closer to home, and will hopefully make a similar impact on driving awareness and action.
There is no quick fix to China’s pollution problem. The Central Government is investing trillions of yuan and enacting countless laws with the aim of bluer skies, but as Chai’s documentary courageously acknowledges, until self-serving energy policies, corruption and a lack of enforcement are addressed, lungs will continue to be blackened.
The real impact from the film is likely to come from the public participation that it inspires. For the most part, the Chinese public take little individual responsibility for fixing the environment. The majority of consumers believe that is up to the state to fix.
Under The Dome was spectacularly distributed to individuals through digital channels, striking a chord at a deep emotional and factual level. In less than a week, the film was viewed more than a 166 million times on Tencent’s platform alone. Although the movie directs the majority of the blame at policy, enforcement and the state energy firms, segments on personal accountability appear throughout the film, with a cartoon at the end clearly demonstrating how the public can alter their behaviour and report violations.
Even if the movie aroused action from 1% of those who viewed the video – say 2-3 million, it would make an impact in addressing China’s abysmal air quality, while demonstrating the real might of Chinese consumer power.
But that may be too much, too soon. Less than a week after airing, the video was removed from China’s major online video platforms Youku, Tudou and Tencent, and deleted from Weibo’s trending topics. State media was no longer allowed to report on it. The move won’t surprise many and will probably temper the hysteria that surrounded the documentary. Fortunately the horse has already bolted. Even if related terms are blocked on WeChat and Weibo, the public will find ways to discuss it and hopefully millions of individual Chinese will take action so we can all breathe a little cleaner air.
For our readers who will be in Shanghai next Wednesday evening 18 March, China Skinny’s Ann Bierbower will be sharing consumer insights as part of the Austcham Digital Media Series: Storytelling in the Chinese Digital Realm. More info here. We hope you enjoy this week’s Skinny.
Fully Translated Under The Dome: Investigating China’s Smog by Chai Jing – Now Banned in China: The online sensation that may lead to bluer skies in China, with English subtitles.
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China Loses Millionaires as Wealthiest Tempted Overseas: More than 76,000 Chinese millionaires emigrated or acquired citizenship in a foreign country between 2003-2013.
China Business Report 2015: AmCham Shanghai’s long-running survey found the overwhelming majority of U.S. companies are profitable, enjoy high annual revenue growth, positive cash flows, and strong market share, however long term outlooks are tempering. Just over two thirds of businesses stated their number one priority was to sell in the China market, with revenue from services exceeding manufacturing.
Marks & Spencer to Close Five China Stores as it Reshapes Asian Strategy: Marks & Spencer plans to close five of its 15 Shanghai stores and enter key Chinese cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou from this year. The company will also focus on online sales which grew 200% last year.
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The Stunning Rise of O2O in China: Online-to-Offline (O2O) services were estimated to generate an additional $38.4 billion in China in 2014. 71% of online Chinese have used an O2O service.
Amazon Opens Tmall Store to Boost China Sales: Amazon is launching a store on Tmall selling imported food, shoes, toys and kitchenware. A good decision?
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Apple Hits New High in China as Xiaomi Balks at Phones for the West: One in four smartphones sold in China last quarter was an iPhone, according to Kantar. The 4.7 inch iPhone 6 was the top selling device accounting for 9.5% of sales in urban China, versus Xiaomi Redmi Note’s 8.9%.
China Has a Healthy Appetite for Food Imports: China’s imports of fresh milk grew 73.5% last year. Mutton imports climbed 9.6%, fruit 6.3% and wine imports were up 1.6% – at least they still grew. Online sales of imported fresh food soared 300% on JD.com in the 25-day period leading up to Chinese New Year.
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China Is Paying Top Dollar for American Ginseng That Might Be Chinese: For thousands of years ginseng has been a key ingredient in China’s traditional medications and last year they imported $77 million of it from the U.S.
David Zhao of Shangpin Says Convince Yourself Before Convincing Others: How online fashion retailer Shangpin competes with China’s online giants and attracted Top Shop as its sales channel for China.