How is this real and not a joke from a satirical science fiction novel about a dystopian polluted future
Okay, look. I’m in Beijing right now. Beijing has some pretty bad smog. But this image is a little deceptive. et’s start with the picture itself. Everything looks darker and smoggier because it’s sunrise. Even on bad smog days, the smog in Beijing does not look like that when the sun is up. Here is a photo I took on a hazardous pollution day:
And here is a photo from the same bridge, but on a “good” air day:
It’s a pretty stark difference! But even the bad day doesn’t look much like the picture in the previous post, even though the pollution levels were pretty much the same (AQI count ranging from mid-300s to 400s throughout the day).
Second, Chinese people were not crowding into Tiananmen Square to watch the sun rise on a screen. See how few people there are in that picture? I walk by Tiananmen every weekday morning to get to work, and there are NEVER that few people out there. This is China! There are a lot of people here! Even in the pouring rain, there are more people in Tiananmen. Which makes sense! It was 6:30 in the morning and the pollution was terrible. People were probably eat breakfast, getting dressed, making lunch, heading out to work. It’s not like there’s a ton of Beijingers who make a point of watching the sun rise every morning. Anyway, where would you go to watch the sun rise? There’s tall buildings everywhere! Moreover, most of the people in Tiananmen on any given day aren’t even Beijingers. They’re tourists, or people selling noisy light-up tops and Chinese flags and manchu empress headbands to the tourists. Your average Beijinger isn’t going to go into Tiananmen because they would have to stand in line, get their bag scanned, get wanded with a metal detector, and then shove their way through a crowded square. If you want to cross Tiananmen, you generally go around.
So what we have in this picture is a tiny handful of early morning tourists and vendors in an unusually deserted Tiananmen Square, and most of them are ignoring the bright screen that is showing the sun rise. That doesn’t really fit the narrative, does it?
Also, let’s talk about the pollution for a minute. Beijing has some pretty bad pollution. The past three days, it’s mostly been in the 150-250 range. For comparison, LA is more like high 60s. So that’s pretty bad. But that’s not what was in the Tiananmen picture. Thursday was an unusually bad day— it was mostly in the high 300s all day. I went to meet my friend Xinxian at the subway stop and found her staring at the moon— despite being high up in the sky, it was still the color of a smoker’s teeth. But the next day, the pollution levels peaked in the 150s, and got down to the 40s, and the moon was bright and shiny. Some weeks the pollution meter never gets out of the yellow, and some weeks it’s mostly bright red. When it gets into the dark red for more than two days in a row, the government starts imposing driving limits and similar things until the air improves.
I could point out other misleading things about the article, like how the “industrial” masks it mentions are usually just a filter covered in patterned cloth (mine has purple flowers on it!), but really, all of this is beside the point.
The only China most westerners care about is the China inside their heads, the China that could have been a communist utopia, or that’s going to take us all over, or that’s a Stalinist police state, or whatever. This is how Mike Daisy got to be on This American Life with his lies. This is why an author that could have focused on the 1000+ pollution levels of Harbin, instead talks about Tiananmen Square. Because it’s a symbol. And to most of you, that’s all China is.
#fuck how this website treats china#tumblr worships japan and korea like they’re utopias when they aren’t they’re just as fucked up as any other country#but any time I see news about china it’s always about how terrible the country is#how polluted and repressed the nation is#肏你妈+闭嘴#stupid westerners
Oh my fucking god thank you so, so so so so so much ximen. As bad as Beijing’s pollution is (and I should know as well, having lived there for a year), to have such a misleading article is just….*sigh*. I’ve bolded words I thought was important in ximen’s rant :).
Before I go on my rant I’d like to apologize to my followers who don’t like politics. I personally don’t like them either, but there is such a strong anti-China sentiment going around in recent years pushed by one-sided, biased medias that I feel like if I don’t stand up for my own people, no one will, and as a Chinese Canadian, having lived in both countries, I feel like, well, i just want to speak up too.
Just to reiterate the point of a “crowded” Tienanmen square, this is how it would look if people actually DID “flock to Tienanmen square”:
You know what that photo of that article is called in China? “Practically no one there.”
Also, can we PLEASE not forget that one of the reasons why is lot of pollution is because China’s producing a lot of shit for the rest of the world, and there’s only product when there is a demand for it. So blame it on big corporations if you must blame someone, but don’t forget, we can complain about this stuff all we want, but at the end of the day, half our shit is still made in China.
This stage of industrialisation and urbanisation has happened to all the developed countries while they were still in development, and many westerners has seemed to magically forgotten everything while blaming everything on Chinese people. Switching systems so that things run on natural gas or electricity instead of coal is extremely expensive (especially for the people, when it comes to their heating systems, and Beijing has over 11.5 million people to heat up in the winter, which is why there’s such a terrible spike in pollution on the Air Quality Index in the winter) and cannot be done in a really short amount of time.
Honestly, it’s a horrible problem, but people are actually trying, and no one is magic so nothing happens with a snap of anyone’s fingers. Chinese people still need to work and live, so you can’t just shut everything down. They also need heating and not freeze to death so you can’t shut the coal-heated-water-heaters down either. Yes, there are things that need to be changed, but they take time. Personally, I don’t even give two fucks about governments - there are corruption and oppression everywhere within every government and no one’s government is better than another, imo, but it’s horrible when people blame everything on one group of people as if they themselves don’t know anyone who drives or buy products that would pollute the environment when produced.
I’ve read so many ridiculous, uneducated, entitled racist comments about China and Chinese people that I often feel like a lot of people living outside of China don’t see Chinese people as PEOPLE too. They work hard like everyone else in the world (some harder than others, just like humans are), they’re not robots or a drone mind thinking “we’re going to take over the world and destroy it, but first let us offer a sacrifice to our communist overlords beep boop.”. You know what they watch on tv? reality tv shows. You know what they complain about? their own government (yes that’s right, people do complain and don’t get arrested for it, surprise surprise!). You know what girls in China fangirl about? Sherlock BBC. You know who’s more worried about pollution in China? People living in China.(disclaimer: not aimed at anyone in particular. unless you have an extreme biased view against Chinese people, then yes, it’s aimed at you.)