In January, Beijing was blanketed in a thick, grey smog of rancid pollutants. The city’s 20 million inhabitants were warned to stay indoors or wear masks if they ventured out. Meanwhile, drivers had to deal with visibility as low as 100 metres in places. Sales of masks and purifiers rocketed as people tried to do whatever they could to keep out the filthy air.It wasn’t the first time Beijingers have had to battle smog. Living in a dense metropolis, situated in the industrial heartland of the world’s biggest polluter, means most residents are pretty accustomed to bad air quality. But this time was different.For starters, it was much worse than usual. Thanks to unhelpful climatic conditions, the smog built up to unprecedented levels. And, while less easy to measure, there were also signs that public attitudes have changed. The January smog sparked a furious outpouring on social media.“I love my city but I refuse to be a human vacuum”, was one of many striking comments. Even more significant was the tone of the normally docile media. Official mouthpiece the People’s Daily said the smog was a “suffocating siege” that had to be addressed urgently. Meanwhile, the state-run China Daily said… Read full this story
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