On April 6, I attended a film screening and discussion over the documentary, Waking The Green Tiger. Original filmmaker, Gary Marcuse and journalist, Jianquiang Liu, facilitated the discussion that occurred afterwards. Waking the Green Tiger documents the unprecedented campaign against building a dam on the upper Yangtze River in Southwestern China. The film showcases the struggle of environmental activists, villagers, and NGOs to protect the livelihood of the villages and the surrounding environment from the construction of a dam at Tiger Leaping Gorge. The film also follows China’s history of environmental degradation and the strengthening of China’s environmental protection agency. The film and presenters were clear on their main points. Although the victory at Tiger Leaping Gorge strengthened the environmental protection agency in China, continued efforts towards unification and awareness must be made to stop future construction. Moreover, the growth and strengthening of the environmental protection agency portrays more than just strides towards bettering the environment. This movement presents key elements in the creation of democracy in China.
The film screening and discussion allowed me to learn about China’s history and current circumstances. During the Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong adopted the belief that “man must conquer nature”. As a result, men, woman, and children participated in environmental campaigns that led to severe cases of pollution and environmental degradation. At this point, people who disagreed with the chairman’s movements were punished in the name of treason. However, today, the growth of green activism and the spread of knowledge on human rights have allowed people in China to take bigger roles in protecting the environment. This showcases the evolution of a more democratic China as people are beginning to understand their rights.
Overall, I found the documentary to be extremely enriching. This documentary largely related to my Understanding the Global Community class because it showcased the power and inequality within China. The issue documented in this documentary showcases power and inequality within China as it portrays China’s structural violence. For instance, in Tianba, a small town in the Sichuan province, the building of a dam cost the rural villagers their livelihood and their homes. The villagers in the film indicated that the government left them with nothing after relocating them from their submerged homes. The lack of compensation for the rural farmers portrays structural violence within China as urban families are treated much better than their rural counterparts. Moreover, the Hukou system within China bars these villagers from migrating elsewhere to find better living conditions. It becomes evident that building the dams benefits the urban people in developed cities much more than it does their rural counterparts who must suffer the consequences.
All in all, even through I don’t know much about China’s social and political environment, I agreed with many of the points the speaker mentioned throughout the Q and A session. As movements like China’s Green Movement are gaining strength, people will continue to vouch for their rights. The success of political movements like the campaign at Tiger Leaping Gorge ushers confidence in the common people and political activist to unify and push for change. However, I believe that there are still many challenges these movements must face as there are still large restrictions on what can be said and done in China.