Color of the Week: Chai Jing Blue
Chái Jìng lán 柴静蓝
On February 28, 2015, Chai Jing released her self-funded documentary “Under the Dome,” an in-depth look at China’s infamously smoggy skies. The film aimed at answering three questions: what is smog, where does it come from, and what can be done about it. Chai’s documentary was first launched on the website of the People’s Daily along with an interview, and was viewed nearly 200 million times over the next few days. After the film went viral, censors ordered all media to halt promoting it and to regulate online “public opinion” concerning it.
The release of “Under the Dome” came just days before the launch of the Two Sessions, and subsequent propaganda directives emphasized that neither Chai nor her film should outshine coverage of the meetings. An anonymous online essay explains officials’ likely reasoning behind shutting down discussion of the film.
Officials have been known to tighten pollution controls ahead of important international gatherings, as they did during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Ahead of the 2014 APEC summit, enhanced regulations successfully scrubbed the sky, and netizens dubbed it “APEC blue.” Mirroring that sarcastic term, netizens launched the hashtag campaign #ChaiJingblue (#柴静蓝#) to honor her effort in publicizing the critical issue. Many netizens asked if “Two Sessions blue” (两会蓝) would be more fitting a coinage, as the skies above Beijing at the start of the annual meetings were as clean as they were during the launch of the APEC gathering. Investigative journalist Luo Changping, for example, said on Weibo, “Chai Jing Blue: Due to the efforts of concerned parties, the smog has been swept away just ahead of the Two Sessions, just as I earlier speculated they would. Should we call this ‘Chai Jing blue’ or ‘Two Sessions blue’?” (【柴静蓝】经过有关方面的努力，雾霭终于在两会召开前夕一扫而空，我说的是网上。这算是柴静蓝，还是两会蓝？)
Chai Jing has long been known as a person with great concern for the wellbeing of China, as demonstrated by a speech she delivered in 2009 while still with CCTV. Chai left CCTV in 2013, and went to the U.S. to give birth to her daughter—a move that drew criticism in China at the time. In her People’s Daily interview and during the lecture portion of her film, Chai notes that her daughter being born with a lung condition was a major factor motivating her to make the film.
Example of “Chai Jing blue”:
HuoYanli (@霍彦立): Students and friends, please take a moment to watch Chai Jing’s “Under the Dome”! If everyone could be a citizen in the style of Chai Jing, the people’s well-being would increase a degree, as would the hope for our nation! Learn from Chai Jing, praise Chai Jing! When I look up at the blue sky, I think of Chai Jing—I call it “Chai Jing blue”! (March 2, 2014)