China Begins Year of the Rooster Under Blanket of Smog

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
January 30, 2017News

Beijing residents awoke to some of the highest smog levels seen in recent years on Saturday (January 28), day one of the Lunar New Year.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said harmful particulate matter in the air had hit the second-highest level in five years by Saturday morning, the state-owned  China News Service reported.

Beijing launched a “war against pollution” in 2014 as part of a central government promise to reverse damage done by decades of breakneck growth and strengthen powers to shut down and punish polluters. Efforts to clean up the skies in the industrial heartland around Beijing are being thwarted by coal-burning industry and indoor heating, which increases during China’s winter months.

Public health concerns over air pollution have grown and the government has found no source of pollution too small to ignore. They have even taken on outdoor food vendors in recent years, as well as the annual battle against China’s long tradition of lighting fireworks to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

“It does affect me, when the sky is totally clear for miles, I feel really happy, when I see the smog it’s doesn’t feel great, lets put it like that, I won’t be in a very good mood,” said local retiree Hao Meirong.

Despite the disappointing start to the new year, saleswoman Zhang Xiaoye said she thought 2017 would see further improvements to the city’s air quality.

“They are controlling it (the pollution) more and more, because now the government says they’re dealing with it so it’s getting better, it’s returning (to what it used to be like),” she said.

In Beijing, efforts to ease smog included neighborhood postings asking residents not to light fireworks, fewer approvals for firework stalls and officials being warned to lead by example and abstain from the pyrotechnics.

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