Secretive China responds to smog with transparency
By The Associated Press
Published: Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, 9:44 p.m.
BEIJING — One of Beijing's worst rounds of air pollution kept schoolchildren indoors and sent coughing residents to hospitals on Monday, but this time something was different about the murky haze: the government's transparency in talking about it.
While welcomed by residents and environmentalists, Beijing's new openness about smog also put more pressure on the government to address underlying causes, including a lag in efforts to expand Western-style emissions limits to all of the vehicles in Beijing's notoriously thick traffic.
“Really awful. Extremely awful,” Beijing office worker Cindy Lu said of the haze as she walked on a downtown sidewalk. But she added: “Now that we have better information, we know how bad things really are and can protect ourselves and decide whether we want to go out.
“Before, you just saw the air was bad but didn't know how bad it really was,” she said.
Even state-run media gave the smog remarkably critical and prominent play.
“More suffocating than the haze is the weakness in response,” read the headline of a front-page commentary by the Communist Party-run China Youth Daily.
Government officials — who have played down past periods of heavy smog — held news conferences and posted messages on microblogs discussing the pollution.
The wave of pollution peaked on Saturday with off-the-charts levels that shrouded Beijing's skyscrapers in thick gray haze. Expected to last through Tuesday, it was the severest smog since the government began releasing figures on PM2.5 particles — among the worst pollutants — early last year in response to a public outcry.
A growing Chinese middle class has become increasingly vocal about the quality of the environment, and the public demands for more air quality information were prompted in part by a Twitter feed from the U.S. Embassy that gave hourly PM2.5 readings from the building's roof.
The Chinese government now issues hourly air quality updates online for more than 70 cities.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- First lady’s absence from trip unsettles Japan
- Pope pleads for peace, end to starvation, help for needy
- Ex-army chief, leftist to seek Egyptian presidency
- Ukraine, Russia trade blame for shootout in east
- Abdullah widens lead in Afghan vote tally
- Yemen: Airstrike targets al-Qaida training camps
- On Easter, Syria’s President Assad visits Christian town recaptured from rebels
- Radio transcript reveals South Korean ferry crew wavered on evacuation
- Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter
- Mexico clears way for foreign investors in shale oil drilling
- Holocaust survivors taxed, student finds in search of Amsterdam city archives