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Beijing Restricts Even More Foods From Being Barbecued Outdoors

Posted: 11/26/2014 9:30 am

chuanr lamb skewrers

The Beijing Bureau of Food and Drug Inspection has submitted a draft proposal to ban oil, smoke, and odor discharges from major outdoor events like sales exhibitions, amusement parks and temple fairs.

As a result, barbecued foods such as lamb skewers, fried squid, and stinky tofu will be banned at these special seasonal venues.

This spring, in another move to protect the environment, Beijing banned restaurants from offering outdoor barbecued foodstuffs, with fines set at RMB 20,000 yuan (US $3,200). While the ban has profoundly disappointed local residents, restaurants that offer indoor barbecues are still legal.

Photo: Beijing Youth Report


These Six Wind Corridors Will Blow All of Beijing’s Smog Away

Posted: 11/24/2014 4:59 pm

beijing wind corridors air pollution smogForget, you know, reducing coal burning or limiting traffic, Beijing has found another way to get rid of smoggy days: wind corridors. The city is now building six pathways for bad air to be pushed out of the city, thus returning the capital to glorious “APEC Blue“.

Some of the wind corridors have been identified as the botanical gardens, Kunming Lake, Kunyu River, Yuyuan Spring, and Qiansanmen, as noted on the map above.

Wind corridors are passages that allow for wind to sweep through a city by removing obstacles that would block it.

READ: Beijing Says New Wind Corridors May Finally Solve The City’s Notorious Pollution Problem

The wind corridors on the outskirts of the city will “attract” wind, which will help blow the smog somewhere else. 

But not everybody is optimistic. Environmental protection expert Peng Yingdeng notes that the preliminary plans for wind corridors are “too perfect”, and explains the difficulty in implementing them:

The problem mainly comes in changes that are made while trying to implement this plan. It’s not uncommon for [needs of] the city’s ecology to give way to economic development.

The use of wind corridors is a popular idea that other Chinese cities are also looking to implement. Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Nanjing, Zhuzhou, Guiyang, Shaoxing, and Fuzhou are all researching the use of wind corridors.

Plans for wind corridors in Tianjin have not yet been confirmed. Tianjin lies south-east of Beijing, the same place many of these wind corridors are pointing.


Photo: Sohu News


Guangdong Vows to Clean Up the Air

Posted: 11/21/2014 2:00 pm

smog guangdong air pollutionWith the exception of Guangzhou, the Pearl River Delta has some of the cleanest air in China, and it’s about to get even better as strict air quality regulations have been announced for 2017 through the “Guangdong Provincial Responsible Clean Air Verification Act”.

To ensure compliance, local officials will be fined and held accountable if the regulations are not met. For clarity, the following criteria must be met to be in compliance with the new regulations:

  • PM 2.5 2.5 levels in 2017 must be same as those in 2012;
  • Guangzhou, Foshan and Dongguan must reduce their PM 2.5 levels by 20 percent;
  • Shenzhen, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing must reduce their PM 2.5 emissions by 15 percent
  • Zhuhai and Huizhou must both have an annual PM 2.5 level of 35 milligram per square meter

Amid plans for a PRD mega-city, talk of reforming hukou restrictions upon migrant workers, and the strengthening of Guangdong factories through robotization, we’re waiting to see if the province’s growing urbanization will have an impact upon its air quality.



Ignore the Smog Beijingers, City Says “APEC Blue” Could Become The Norm

Posted: 11/20/2014 3:21 pm

apec blue pollution air smogThis year’s APEC summit saw host city Beijing boasting beautiful blue skies that were a change from the smog that usually hounds the nation’s capital. And despite the extreme measures required to reach this goal, it appears “APEC blue” is something that Beijing officials want to institute as a long-term policy while the city is currently under yet another smog attack.

This mechanism will remain in place over a long time after the conference is over,” Zhang Dawei, a director with the Beijing Environmental Monitoring Center, said.

Among the temporary measures used to improve Beijing’s air quality during the APEC conference was reducing carbon emissions by limiting vehicle traffic. This is now being considered as a permanent remedy to the city’s notoriously polluted skies. Local officials are even considering charging drivers a “congestion tax”.

Beijing’s plan is to continue to introduce policies aimed at reducing the local PM 2.5 level to 60 by 2017. That is ambitious, as another report suggests Beijing’s air quality will only begin to improve in 30 years.

The Beijing Environmental Statistics Bureau reports PM 2.5 levels during the 11 days of the APEC dropped 30 percent, and were the lowest such levels recorded this year.

Currently, Beijing has an AQI level of 348, and is under a yellow warning alert.

apec blue pollution air smogRelated:

Photo: People’s Daily


China’s Typical Expat: Male, Doesn’t Speak Chinese, and Loves It Here

Posted: 11/11/2014 10:34 am
foreign experts china

Juan and Fabio are among the foreign experts who arrived in China and are loving it, as seen in this March 2008 news photo.

Common sense may have told us this, but we finally have confirmation from the Chinese government: the typical expat in China is male, doesn’t speak Chinese, and loves his adopted country.

The State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs sent a questionnaire to expats as part of its study on the living environment for expatriate workers. It found China is already among the world’s top destinations for expatriate workers and by far the most lucrative, but it still needs “to do better to hire and keep professional expats”, reported China Daily.

More than 2,000 people responded to the survey. It showed 74 percent of expats are male, and an astounding 73 percent could barely understand simple Chinese.

The study outlined a number of problems that concerned foreigners, such as medical and social insurance issues, as well as the educational needs of their children and the application process for work visas.

Chinese authorities have tried to make the work visa application process easier for expats, and even announced reforms to China’s rarely-seen green card program. In 2012, only 0.2 percent of China’s 633,000 expats held a green card.

The report failed to mention air pollution, an issue so important to some expat workers that Western companies are willing to pay “hazard pay” bonuses to those willing to work in China’s big polluted cities.

When asked what conditions could be improved for expats, the study found that 56.9 percent of respondents want better compensation, while many of their employers reportedly are unable to meet those demands.

Whatever their salary, expats are generally very happy to be in China. Over 70 percent of professional expat workers in China reported being very satisfied with their lives, and 75 percent of employers reported being similarly satisfied with these foreign expats, even if they are mostly males who don’t speak the language.


[h/t the Beijinger]

Photo: FY News, dahe


Herculean Effort to Clean Beijing’s Air May Be in Vain as Pollution Forecasted

Posted: 11/8/2014 11:28 am

apec ball buildingA tremendous effort has been made to clean up the air around Beijing in advance of the APEC summit. The “war on air pollution” is the largest mobilization of resources to improve air quality since the Olympic Games in 2008, 2010 Shanghai Expo and this year’s Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.

However, while the sky might be “APEC Blue” right now, it looks like even Beijing’s herculean efforts won’t be enough to let the sun shine through. Heavy pollution is forecast for the region around Beijing from November 8 to 11, which means Beijing might lose face in front of foreign guests. That means somebody must be punished.

That indeed will happen as 24 Shijiazhuang officials will apparently face consequences for failing in their promise to make Beijing’s air quality comply with regulations for APEC. Another five people working for ‘problematic companies’ (which we think are companies that add to pollution) have been detained and fined RMB 350,000.

The efforts to reduce emissions and increase air quality have involved a number of provinces including Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong, Inner Mongolia, and Henan. Tianjin has also been doing everything it can.

The New York Times outlines some of the extreme measures being taken to cut down on pollution:

Thousands of factories have closed and thousands more have been ordered to reduce emissions by 30 percent. Around Beijing, in an area nearly the size of California, tens of millions of people in 17 major cities can drive only on alternate days, depending on whether their license plates end in an odd or even number. Trucks carrying goods can enter Beijing only between midnight and 3 a.m., affecting deliveries of supplies like furniture and milk.

Gas stations have been barred from selling gas in canisters, and some have been shut entirely, though these measures may be aimed more to discourage the making of firebombs than to clear the air.

The government has also tried to shed some of the city’s 21 million people, declaring an APEC Golden Week, a six-day vacation modeled on the Golden Week public officials get each year around National Day in early October. Public schools have been closed, work has been halted on construction sites, and public services such as issuing marriage licenses and passports have been suspended.

Newlyweds may not set off firecrackers, a common feature of a wedding celebration. Hospitals have closed nonessential departments and are turning away patients with nonemergency ailments.

All mining in Hebei is reported to have stopped as well, and police will investigate any reports of people burning their trash.

Photo: Caijing


Reversal: Beijing Skies Are “APEC Blue” While Guangzhou Suffers

Posted: 11/7/2014 9:00 am

Air pollution is always a hot topic in China, but particularly this week as world leaders gather in Beijing for the APEC summit. Photos on social media show glorious blue skies in Beijing, which have been cleared of dangerous PM 2.5 to impress foreign guests. Some online now describe the skies as “APEC blue”, with APEC standing for Air Pollution Effectively Controlled.

The same can’t be said for Guangzhou, however, which unfortunately doesn’t have any important people in town.

Just days after Guangzhou’s Mayor, Chen Jianhua, made a grand gesture to show his commitment to curbing the city’s air pollution, Guangzhou’s Air Quality Index (AQI) hit 192, just 9 points shy of the “Very Unhealthy” reading of 201 or higher.

Readings from 18 of the city’s monitoring stations showed it was a particularly smoggy day, with two of the readings collected from Lizhi Xicun and Zengceng Xintang showing 192, which fall in the “Unhealthy” range of 150 to 200, reported New Express Daily.

The readings prompted the city to issue an orange smog alert, just nine days after issuing the last heavy smog alert, the report said.

At this rate, Mayor Chen just might get his wish. For those of you who regularly take the bus, keep your eyes peeled on those particularly smoggy days; you may find yourself hobnobbing with the Mayor on your morning commute.

 Photos: New Express Daily 


Pollution in Guangzhou So Bad the Mayor Will Take the Bus

Posted: 11/4/2014 9:15 am

At a time when smog has become one of the top social issues in China, one prominent public figure is vowing to do something about it. Chen Jianhua, the Mayor of Guangzhou, has pledged to refrain from driving, and will take the bus instead if the city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) exceeds the “unhealthy” range of 200, reports Nanfang Net.

According to Chen, about 77 percent of days this year have been relatively smog free, a 0.7 percent increase over 2013. The number of unhealthy days has also declined, he said. But the ultimate goal, says Chen, is to “make Guangzhou residents proud of Guangzhou’s air quality”.

Chen’s pledge to take the bus was met with scepticism, and even dismissed as a publicity stunt by official media outlets, considering the city has only exceeded the 200 benchmark once all year, wrote Red Net in a commentary. The piece was later republished by

“Considering Guangzhou only has a moderate air pollution problem, Mayor Chen’s much-hyped 200-air-quality target seems a little too easy. If he could lower the target to 150 as the benchmark for taking the bus, his plan would probably garner more support, and the public would not question his remark as little more than a publicity stunt.”

The AQI reading is usually between 100 and 150 in Guangzhou. In China, air quality is categorised into five grades. Below 50 is considered healthy; 51-100 is moderate; 100-200 range is unhealthy; 200-300 range is very unhealthy; and a reading above 300 is considered hazardous.



Irate Passengers Break Into Cockpit Over Smog Delays

Posted: 11/3/2014 11:00 am

plane in smogWe all know that flight delays and air pollution are both common in China. But what we may not know is that one can might be making the other worse.

Just last week a flight from Guangzhou to Harbin was forced to land in Shenyang, Liaoning due to low visibility caused by heavy smog in harbin, reports China Daily.

The following the day, the re-scheduled flight again tried to fly to Harbin, but was forced to return to Shenyang when the heavy smog just wouldn’t let up. After landing in Shenyang, the flight was finally canceled, but not before six passengers refused to get off the plane. Two of the women were so upset that they broke down the door to the cockpit, barged their way in, and argued with the co-pilot.

One of the women, a Miss Li, said that she lost her head and tried to break into the cockpit because of the long delays and the bad attitude of airline staff.

I don’t really understand these (laws), and wasn’t thinking of the consequences. Right now, I’m really sorry.

The incident ended about 20 minutes later.

According to airport security, breaking into the cockpit means 10 to 15 days in police custody.


Photo: China Daily


Why People Decided to Run the Beijing Marathon Despite Heavy Pollution

Posted: 10/30/2014 1:09 pm

beijing smog marathon air pollution masksThis year’s Beijing marathon made headlines because it took place amid some of the city’s worst pollution. Many of the runners wore face masks to try to protect them from the smog.

Because of the health risks associated with air pollution and microscopic particulate matter, people are urged to refrain from vigorous physical activity on polluted days. The race organizing committee posted this warning a day before the race:

Participants in the race should only run if they feel capable of doing so. If there is anything wrong at any point, please stop running the race immediately.

And yet, despite the risks, they came. Southern Weekend reported of the 30,000 people who signed up, 26,000 showed up on race day. However, only 15,000 completed the course, which started at Tiananmen Square and wrapped up near the Bird’s Nest in northern Beijing.

Some runners said their throats felt “sticky” during the race. Professor Pan Xiaochuan of the Beijing University Medical Department Public Health Academy explained:

The sticky feeling is from the lungs working harder and the blood circulating faster due to exercising. At this same time, the body is inhaling many small (air pollution) particles and leading to this situation. The (health) risk is obviously higher.


running smog poll air pollution

When asked “Do you jog when there is smog?” 88.33 percent said “no”.

The high turnout was startling, consider a poll done by Southern Weekend showed 88 percent of runners said they will not go jogging if there is any smog.

running smog poll air pollution

When asked “Would you quit running the Beijing marathon this year due to smog?”, 60.71 percent of recent said “no”.

So why did they do it? Abe Yoshiharu from Tokyo said he felt he couldn’t quit the race because he felt he would let his country down. Nicole Kennedy from New York said she couldn’t give up because of what it means to give up a challenge in life. Yang Jin, who ran but eventually decided to pull out of the race, wanted to give the award for running the marathon to his baby. Liu Hexun served as a pacesetter, and said she couldn’t quit if she wanted.

Wang Heng said he has a burning desire to run. If smog hangs around for several days, he says it starts to feel “like I’ve been trapped…  it’s like I haven’t bathed.” Wang first decided to skip the race when he saw the AQI had exceeded 400, but eventually ran because he was “compelled by excitement”.

beijing smog marathon air pollution masks

Wang wore a 9002V model mask which he soon discarded because it was uncomfortable. Many others did the same, discovering that running while wearing a face mask isn’t exactly a pleasant experience. Tao Shaoming, a long-distance running coach, explains:

Good quality masks are not suitable for running as it’s hard enough to walk in them and breathe at the same time.

At the halfway point, runners said they didn’t feel as though the smog was affecting their performance. Ambulances along the route said they hadn’t received any cases of patients with breathing problems.

beijing smog marathon air pollution masksBut about half of all runners didn’t make it to the finish line, chief among those being the Kenyan runner who quit the race at the half-way point after leading for 12 miles.

Beijing runners live by the slogan “you’ll only understand if you run”, but it looks like fewer will be taking the slogan to heart. After the smoggy marathon, many have vowed never again to run the Beijing marathon if it’s polluted.

When the race finished at 2pm, the AQI finally started to come down. The joke on social media was that the air was cleaner thanks to the thousands of runners working as a human air filter.

Photos: Wexin, Southern Daily

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