(Image source: Xinhua)

 

 

BY ZACH TOOMBS

 

 

Northern China is still dealing with especially thick pollution.  But beyond Beijing’s smog-filled skies, another big story is the state media’s highly rare willingness to push back against China’s government on such a hot-button issue.

 

China’s capital entered a fourth day of hazardous outdoor conditions Monday — with pollution levels more than twice as high as what the World Health Organization considers dangerous. [Video: BBC]

 

On the ground in Beijing, Sky News’ Mark Stone details the factors that have made the capital’s smog particularly bad as of late.

 

“This is lunchtime today — not rush hour. Combine all this with the staggering factory output, mix in some slightly warmer and less windy-than-average weather, and this is the result: a perfect smog.”

 

Prolonged exposure to the pollution can cause respiratory problems, lung cancer and heart disease. It’s the kind of story China’s state run media outlets would normally be hesitant to report — which is why the attention the topic has received in China is so surprising. [Video: Al Jazeera]

 

China’s state broadcaster CCTV led its Sunday evening news broadcast with eight minutes of coverage on the heavy pollution. That included commentary from an editor, who, according to The Wall Street Journal’s translation said:

 

“Everyone is the victim of polluted air … Environment protection policies should be strengthened. Governmental departments should take the lead and drive official cars less frequently.”

 

Even the Communist Party’s main newspaper, People’s Daily, usually a reliable tower of the party line, published a front-page editorial urging the government to take action on the environment.

 

The recent spate of editorials reflects a wider call for more transparency from China’s government on pollution levels. Beijing only began publishing air quality data last year — and the city’s readings are regularly lower than readings from the U.S. embassy there. In the press, the country has even seen a shift in some of the terminology surrounding this issue.

 

State run outlets like Xinhua have long referred to pollution as weather-related “heavy fog” or dawu. But now, the media is more and more frequently using wumai, something that translates closer to “haze” — more commonly tied to pollution.

 

One Beijing resident told Foreign Policy magazine:


“I am shocked by the level of coverage but more so that air pollution is no longer "heavy fog" but now ‘haze.’”

On Pollution, China’s State Media Shows Surprising Pushback

by Zach Toombs
0
Transcript
Jan 14, 2013

On Pollution, China’s State Media Shows Surprising Pushback

(Image source: Xinhua)

 

 

BY ZACH TOOMBS

 

 

Northern China is still dealing with especially thick pollution.  But beyond Beijing’s smog-filled skies, another big story is the state media’s highly rare willingness to push back against China’s government on such a hot-button issue.

 

China’s capital entered a fourth day of hazardous outdoor conditions Monday — with pollution levels more than twice as high as what the World Health Organization considers dangerous. [Video: BBC]

 

On the ground in Beijing, Sky News’ Mark Stone details the factors that have made the capital’s smog particularly bad as of late.

 

“This is lunchtime today — not rush hour. Combine all this with the staggering factory output, mix in some slightly warmer and less windy-than-average weather, and this is the result: a perfect smog.”

 

Prolonged exposure to the pollution can cause respiratory problems, lung cancer and heart disease. It’s the kind of story China’s state run media outlets would normally be hesitant to report — which is why the attention the topic has received in China is so surprising. [Video: Al Jazeera]

 

China’s state broadcaster CCTV led its Sunday evening news broadcast with eight minutes of coverage on the heavy pollution. That included commentary from an editor, who, according to The Wall Street Journal’s translation said:

 

“Everyone is the victim of polluted air … Environment protection policies should be strengthened. Governmental departments should take the lead and drive official cars less frequently.”

 

Even the Communist Party’s main newspaper, People’s Daily, usually a reliable tower of the party line, published a front-page editorial urging the government to take action on the environment.

 

The recent spate of editorials reflects a wider call for more transparency from China’s government on pollution levels. Beijing only began publishing air quality data last year — and the city’s readings are regularly lower than readings from the U.S. embassy there. In the press, the country has even seen a shift in some of the terminology surrounding this issue.

 

State run outlets like Xinhua have long referred to pollution as weather-related “heavy fog” or dawu. But now, the media is more and more frequently using wumai, something that translates closer to “haze” — more commonly tied to pollution.

 

One Beijing resident told Foreign Policy magazine:


“I am shocked by the level of coverage but more so that air pollution is no longer "heavy fog" but now ‘haze.’”

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