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Even Beijing’s Mayor Says the City is Unlivable

Posted: 01/27/2015 8:10 am

beijing smogIf waking up every day to grey, dreary mornings in Beijing is getting you down, you’re not alone. During a presentation at the 14th annual People’s Representative Conference, the Mayor of Beijing, Wang Anshun, conceded that “Beijing is not a livable city“.

Here’s what he had to say:

In establishing a top-tier, internationalized livable and harmonious city, Beijing is currently establishing a system of standards, something that is very important. At the present time however, Beijing is not a livable city.


There was no shortage of days in 2014 where the PM 2.5 reading, which measures particulate matter in the air, was above 200, considered hazardous. Wang blamed the city’s pollution problem to a massive influx of vehicles and an uneven distribution of industrial factories. Currently, 71.8 percent of all factories in Beijing are concentrated in just six of the city’s districts.

To address these concerns, Beijing got rid of 476,000 vehicles last year that failed to meet emission standards. The city also dismantled 36 trading centers and closed 392 factories.

Yet, as bad as the city’s air quality has become, smog is not the Mayor’s top priority. He’s more concerned with over population:

Seeing that there is a mad rush of people flocking to the city, population control remains Beijing’s number one problem.

And so while the mayor’s speech included buzzwords like “living standards” and “greenification”, overpopulation sits at the top of the list. At 21.5 million residents, Beijing continues to grow at a feverish pace. There were 368,000 new arrivals to the city last year, and despite the poor air quality, the city is projecting similar numbers for 2015. The city has become so dense that its western area is packed with 25,700 people per square kilometer.

Wang continues to promise change, arguing his mandate is the people’s mandate:

As the economy achieves a new state of being, so does society. The government should not be afraid of being critical as this reflects the will of the people.

Photo: People’s Daily Online

  • justintime

    Beijing unlivable
    No blue sky over lower Yangtze
    Eyes water, lungs ache
    Chinese people protest
    Official shrugs
    Policy change?

    Leave the coal in the ground!


    I wonder why wealthy Chinese want to raise their family overseas?

    • Archie

      Better pizza.

      • datou1

        Hmm dunno. I’m a NY pizza snob and my favorite pizza is the gorgonzola pizza at D’Amarco in Shanghai :-P

        • Archie

          I’ll have to give that a try next time in SH. Thanks for the tip.

    • Martin

      Chinese nouveaux riches are actually the reason why China is so much crap today, and high ranking officials. “What are you saying mr. official? My factory rejects too much cadmium… oh! what’s this? Doesn’t this suitcase full of 100 RMB bills belong to you? What were you saying? My factory is a beacon of cleanliness, that’s it.” Western countries would be well advised to not welcome wealthy Chinese businessmen and officials.

  • mfw13

    Everybody focuses on the air pollution, but there’s relatively little that the Mayor of Beijing can do about that, since the relevant policies are determined at a higher level.

    However, one quality of life issue he might be able to do something about is traffic…specifically actually enforcing the laws which actually exist. I’m constantly amazed that a city as large as Beijing has no functional traffic police, a fact which results in chaos at every intersection and cars parked on many sidewalks. Simply having and using traffic cops to enforce a “don’t block the box” policy, for example, would go a long way to improving Beijing’s traffic problems.

    • Archie

      I think you can replace “Beijing” with “China” in your comment.

      • mfw13

        The funny thing is, given how big a problem corruption is in China, you would think traffic police would be everywhere, given that small traffic fines and parking tickets could potentially be a huge source of income to the government…

        • fadil

          thats what i was going to say, enforcing traffic laws could be a huge gold mine, and issuing driving bans will might keep stupid drivers of the road, anyways the government creates useless jobs all the time why not actually give out jobs like this, would make a huge difference,this could improve many things for the country, the problem is nobody cares and if somebody did care they couldnt do much about it unless someone in power wanted to make a change

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