Smog envelops swathes of China again


Visitors stand on Tiananmen Square across from a portrait of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong in thick haze in Beijing Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. Extremely high pollution levels shrouded eastern China for the second time in about two weeks Tuesday, forcing airlines in Beijing and elsewhere to cancel flights because of poor visibility and prompting government warnings for residents to stay indoors. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

BEIJING – Residents across northern China battled through choking pollution at extreme levels on Tuesday, as Beijing was plunged into toxic twilight for the fourth time this winter.

Visibility was reduced to around 200 meters in parts of the capital, where mask-wearing pedestrians made their way through a murky haze, despite warnings from authorities to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary.

In a Beijing city office visited by AFP, up to 20 workers worried that the pollutants could penetrate indoors took extra precautions, wearing gas-mask style protective headgear at their desks.

State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) gave the smog’s second day huge airplay, showing vehicles using full headlights in mid-morning to light their way through the noxious cloud over huge swathes of northern China.

More than 100 flights were delayed or cancelled at Zhengzhou Airport in Henan, said CCTV, adding that the haze would last until Thursday.

In the eastern province of Shandong, almost 2,000 passengers were stranded at Qingdao’s main airport after it shut with 20 flights cancelled as visibility dropped to 100 metres, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Beijing’s winter of smog has sparked an Internet outcry and anger from state media.

The China Daily reiterated its calls for firm action on Tuesday, directing them at the capital’s newly-installed mayor Wang Anshan, who formally took over on Monday.

“What do Beijing residents expect of their new mayor?” asked the newspaper in an editorial. “Of all the things that need improving, cleaner air will be at the top of many people’s wish list.”

Wang was quoted by Xinhua as saying: “The current environmental problems are worrisome.”

The Beijing News went as far as to suggest banning or regulating next month’s traditional and hugely popular New Year fireworks in the capital. Pollution readings spiked last year after the city’s skyline lit up with explosions.

Celebrity bloggers — including real estate tycoon Pan Shiyi and reform-minded investor Xue Manzi, who have a combined 24 million followers on China’s microblogging sites — called for legislation against pollution.

The US embassy’s air quality index (AQI) reading for Beijing stood at 457 and “hazardous” at 5pm on Tuesday, after having reached 517, or “beyond index”, at 6am.

The index rates a reading over 150 as “unhealthy”, above 300 as “hazardous”, while anything over the upper limit of 500 is regarded as “beyond index”.

Meanwhile, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Centre gave the figure as 406, indicating the capital’s air was “severely polluted”.

The toxic air follows an extreme bout of pollution earlier this month, when state media said readings for PM 2.5, particles small enough to deeply penetrate the lungs, peaked at 993 micrograms per cubic metre, almost 40 times the World Health Organization’s recommended safe limit.

At the height of the smog, many residents rushed to buy face masks and air purifiers, and doctors at two of Beijing’s major hospitals said the number of patients with respiratory problems had increased sharply during the period.

China’s pollution problems are blamed on the country’s rapid urbanisation and dramatic economic development.

But experts have raised questions over China’s will and ability to tackle car and coal use, which are seen as key causes of the phenomenon.

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    buti nga

    • JuanTamadachi

      but they might all choke to death :)

  • EREC

    Communist China must be the first one to promote sustainable electric cars…. they can do this only that communist china leaders did not prioritize. Globally mass production of electric cars was lobbied  by petrolium companies not to be produce…in communist china can mass produce for electric cars because its not democratic government….communist china leaders nothing to be affraid of from the lobbiest that mostly supported candidates in democratic countries like US.

    • David

       china has its own electronic car (QQ) only that chinese prefer luxury cars, eh kaso di naman elec cars un at imported pa. so wala rin un program nila ng elec cars. meron sila electronic bikes…yun maraming gumagamit.

  • LabkoPinas

    I guess this is why they want the whole China sea for themselves. They are preparing to all become boat people when they completely poison their lands. Serves them right.

  • dikoy321

    Propaganda on the Internet

    More than 540 million people currently use the Internet in China, but there are also millions of Internet-based “opinion-guiding” agents employed by the Chinese government to control and censor every single Internet forum and portal.
    Secretly in the employment of the Chinese government, these censors officially are called “Internet commentators” but popularly known as the “50-Cents Party.” The nickname can be traced to October 2004 when the Hunan provincial Community Party Propaganda Department pioneered the system of paying 50 cents in Chinese yuan per posting to Internet agents hired specifically to write postings that seek to counter every piece the government dislikes.
    Based on the Hunan model in 2007, then-Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao issued a directive in creating a massive “Internet commentator army” made up of “comrades who are ideologically resolute, skilled in Internet technology and familiar with the approach and language of the common Internet users.” The job of the agents is to “guide public opinions expressed on the Internet.”
    Since then, these diligent 50-Cents Party members have proliferated by the millions at every Internet portal in China’s vast cyberspace, scanning and searching, incognito, for any “negative opinions” to counter. The postings are designs to appear as spontaneous, individual responses.
    In reality, these 50-Cents Party members are under the control of Communist Party propaganda apparatus at all levels of government.
    In Beijing alone, 1 in 10 residents in the capital city of 20 million are “propaganda workers,” according to the city’s vice mayor and municipal party propaganda chief Lu Wei, who spoke at a Propaganda Workers’ Conference on Jan. 17.
    He disclosed that 60,000 professional “propaganda workers” are directly in the employ by the city government and more than 2 million informal collaborators work as the city’s propaganda team, most of them on university campuses and youth-oriented organizations that are most likely Internet-based.
    At the conference, the Beijing propaganda chief ordered his propaganda army troops to master the Internet posting skills “in order to create positive energy” by posting Twitter-like messages exalting the Communist Party’s image and achievement, providing “opinion-guidance” on “hot topics” such as corruption, housing, and inequality.

  • dikoy321

    China’s coal-fired electric power plants are just one of the CULPRITS !

    Also, mag-ingat po sa Chinese “50-Cents Party”!

    Forward Philippines !!!

    • WeAry_Bat

       Wished those in parts of Visayas, Mindanao and Subic would read the article.

  • Pers

    mabuti para sa insek galaham.

  • scolexx

    marami tayong kababayan dun. sana safe sila at yung mga bata.

  • David

    hate the chinese for territory disputes but dont forget, you cannot contain pollution. it would spread across borders and countries. so maapektuhan din pinas sooner… kahit galit tayo, wag naman nating sabihin na mabuti nga o kasi kayo… ang sakit ng kalingkingan, ramdam ng buong katawan.

  • WeAry_Bat

    As I wrote before, I noticed my Manilan officemates having children with asthma.  One is in old Manila, while the other is in Makati.  They have lived there for all and most of their lives.

    PM 2.5 below and fine particulate pollution is a bit astonishing to
    read.  I myself have always been suspicious of the very fine powders in
    certain printers and photocopiers.  Now it seems smoke is one, and what about industrial smoke from manufacture of products…

    For those with babies and young children, perhaps like me, you should have units which have filters.  Aircon is one, then although costly, one could attach hepa filters.  Try to find air purifiers which can be cleansed easily and is not costly if filter is to be replaced. 

    I am not sure yet if what I am doing is effective, it may take 10-13 years before we know if my air-cleansing practices are effective, if baby girl becomes teenager with no asthma.  But it may be better than none.

  • Cho

    This is the Legacy that Chinese people and its communist government give to its neighbors. Killings,Diseases, pollution, bad image, etc…etc…etc…

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