An estimated six million people in China suffer from pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung disease. After reporting on this disease, journalist Wang Keqin was compelled to launch an online civil movement to increase public awareness and set up a dedicated fund to provide victims with medical aid.
Wang is committed to raising public awareness through fund-raising events and visiting villages in rural China affected by the disease. He remains uncertain about how his efforts are helping to fight what is now the deadliest workplace disease in China.
This is the story of one newsman and his fight for the workers of China.
By Phil Yan and Richard Liang
“In China, there are about six million pneumoconiosis sufferers. They have no way out and their only option is to wait for death with no dignity.”
These were the words of Wang Keqin that hurt us the most when we filmed him for the first time. As we quickly discovered, the six million figure that Wang was referring to not only included the six million people who currently suffer from pneumoconiosis, but the six million families who have also been dragged into a nightmare that often results in the death of their relatives.
Almost all of those suffering from the disease are migrant workers who live at the bottom of society. China is developing quickly and the country is fast becoming an economic power in the East. In the process, migrant workers have become China’s indispensable labour force but, because of the lack of information, they have no idea how to protect themselves.
After years of working in unprotected and unsafe conditions, many of them begin to suffer from a number of ailments, including pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease.
We made a plan to film a group of black lung disease sufferers, record their stories and tell the world about their plight.
Our camera followed Wang Keqin, a former investigative journalist who has decided to dedicate his life to a campaign to save black lung disease patients. We went with Wang, who has been described as a “fighter”, and his team to visit the patients in their homes. Because of poverty, these patients had initially left their hometowns to become migrant workers, yet now have become even more destitute as a result of contracting the disease.
We realised that Wang’s job is extremely difficult. Although there is no guarantee that they can effect significant change in this age of profit maximisation, Wang and his team refuse to stop. We have great admiration for them.
Wang predicts that it will take China 100 years to completely wipe out this disease, and he is prepared to keep up his fight for the rest of his life.