Schools Closed, Cars Forced Off Roads as Beijing Issues Its First Air Pollution Red Alert

Schools Closed, Cars Forced Off Roads as Beijing Issues Its First Air Pollution Red Alert
Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像
What you need to know

In the latest smog in Beijing, 23 out of 35 environmental monitor stations recorded a sixth-level pollution lasting for five days, which was two days longer than what the red alert standard regulates. The government did not issue the red alert in time and raised controversy.

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Apple Daily reports, on December 7, readings of PM2.5 exceeded 180 micrograms per cubic meter in 18 air pollution monitors in Beijing and the government decided to issue the red alert last evening.

It is the first time China has issued a red alert under the system that was implemented in 2013 when Beijing announced the air pollution emergency act.

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Under the alert, millions of vehicles have been forced off the roads. Factories and construction sites have been shut down and schools and companies advised to close.

After two months of serious air pollution, the red alert is too late

Xinhua reports, since this October, severe air pollution has affected the northern part of China and the smog once reached up to 530,000 square kilometers. If only considering Beijing City, there has already been eight heavy air pollution alerts issued within the last two months.

In the latest smog, 23 out of 35 environmental monitor stations recorded a sixth-level pollution lasting for five days, which was two days longer than what the red alert standard regulates. The government did not issue the red alert in time and raised controversy.

Users of Chinese social media, Weibo, criticize authorities saying, “The government is incompetent in managing the air pollution, but the people have to pay for this?" They also say, “The factories are the main culprits at this point, but they are owned by the leaders.” However, some people also agree with the authorities and say they are finally facing the air pollution issues and canceling companies and schools.

People’s Daily reports, since last year, an artist, Kong Ning, has been doing a performance art work, “Marriage with the Blue Sky (《嫁給藍天》),” in several areas of Beijing. She wore a wedding dress made out of 999 masks walking around Chang-an St. to call on people to care about the environment. Since 2000, Kong has displayed three performance art pieces to convey her concern about environmental protection and concept of loving nature.

Translated by June
Edited by Olivia Yang

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