Hell on Earth: The Unseen Side of China’s Modernisation

Longmen town in Hanchen city, Shaanxi Province (陕西省韩城市龙门镇) has large-scaled industrial development. Environment is very seriously polluted there. April 8, 2008

In Inner Mongolia there were 2 “black dragons” from the Lasengmiao Power Plant (内蒙古拉僧庙发电厂) covering the nearby villages. July 26, 2005

There doesn’t seem to be any way around the fact that if a country wants to industrialise on a massive scale, pollution is an unfortunate and initially uncontrollable by-product. It’s a pattern that’s been repeated around the world many times in many places. Most of the rivers of Europe, Russia and the US were hugely polluted to the extent they were devoid of aquatic life as these areas industrialised. Cleanup comes later, driven by protest and legislation, but initially it is secondary to production.

The photographs show that China’s industrialisation is no different. They capture a modern version of the Dickensian nightmare experienced by many of the major English cities during industrialisation in the 19th century.

These photographs act not only as a documentation of this process of modernisation, but also as a form of protest and therefore as a potential catalyst for change. For this reason, on October 14, 2009, at the 30th annual awards ceremony of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund in New York City the photographer Lu Guang (卢广) from People’s Republic of China won the $30,000 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography. His documentary project is aptly titled “Pollution in China.”

For all additional photographs, click here.

Fan Jai Zhuang in Anyang City, Henan province, (河南安阳市范家庄) there is only one wall separating this village from the steelmaking furnaces. The villagers live in this heavily polluted environment where the village is under the iron rain every day. March 24, 2008

Guiyu, Guangdong province, (广东省贵屿镇) rivers and reservoirs have been contaminated, the villager is washing in a seriously polluted pond. November 25, 2005

In Ma’anshan, Anhui province (安徽马鞍山), along the Yangtze River there are many small-scaled Iron selection factories and plastic processing plants. Large amounts of sewage discharged into the Yangtze River June 18, 2009

Soil by Yangtze River, was polluted by Anhui Province Ma’anshan Chemical Industrial District (安徽省马鞍山化工园区). June 26, 2009

Hebei Province Shexian Tianjin Iron and steel plant (河北省涉县天津钢铁厂) is a heavily polluting company. Company scale is still growing, seriously affecting the lives of local residents. March 18, 2008

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