Changing China

Giant on the move


July 18, 2008

    With just three weeks to go before the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics, the blue sky which had been seen over the Bird’s Nest National Stadium in Beijing recently, was giving way to smog again.
    The Beijing Ministry for Environmental Protection was still showing data from Thursday (July 17) when the Chinese Air Pollution Index (API) showed a reading of API 77. This figure is valid up until 1200 local (0300 GMT), but the air quality at 0800 local time (0000 GMT) on Friday (July 18) was visibly much worse than the day before, when a blue sky could be seen over the Bird’s Nest.
    API 77 is grade 2 in the Chinese system, meaning “comparatively good”, and counts as a “blue sky day” in Beijing. On Friday, the sky was dull at 0800gmt just before it started to pour with rain in Beijing, with the temperature at 27 degrees and 78 percent humidity.
    Beijing has spent 140 billion yuan ($20.34 billion U.S. dollars) on environmental improvements over the last decade, the problem persists, however, particularly when there is no wind or rainy weather – as there will be in August.  Further measures start this weekend, when Beijing will close more factories and force 19 heavy polluters to reduce emissions by 30 percent from July 20. 
    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it might reschedule endurance events such as the marathon to prevent health risks to athletes competing for more than an hour.
    See the latest video of air quality conditions around the Olympic Green here


The video demonstrates that smog is still a problem for this major Chinese city, just as it was five years ago when I visited. Whilst it is commendable that the Chinese authorities appear to be trying to clean up their environment and reduce the pollution they emit into the atmosphere, it begs the question whether or not they were ready to host the Games. Perhaps they should have done more towards reducing pollution in the long term and looked at hosting the Games at a later date. Well done Reuters for keeping the world informed!

Posted by Tony Watson | Report as abusive

As a keen sportsman i will be intersted to see how these top athletes perform in these difficult circumstances, authoritys must be praised for attempting to ease the situation by closing the factorys but could this be a case of too little too late? I for one hope that it will not have a detremental effect on the event and will still be the spectacle the olymipics should be.

Posted by Darren Mawhinney | Report as abusive

It is interesting reading these reports. I will be in Beijing myself in a week and am keen to see just how good or bad the pollution is.

I lived in Beijing in 1997-98 and back then I would go riding. Once I got home I would be covered in a fine layer of soot or grime. Back then there were a lot more coal fired stoves in the residential housing.

Will be interesting.


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