Changing China

Giant on the move

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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.

Check out the air quality around the Olympic Green almost live in this video footage here 

Never mind the pollution, it’s the Olympic Games


Cathy FreemanFormer Olympic champion Cathy Freeman, the darling of the Sydney Games in 2000, was in Beijing at the weekend with a few words of advice for Liu Xiang.

I also asked her about pollution and, although she is now long-retired, I think her reply might still reflect the attitude of many of the top athletes coming to Beijing. 

“Vicious cycle” of bike thefts


A man rides a bicycle in Beijing’s central business districtChina has appealed to residents to take “green” transport ahead of the Olympics, casting the city’s pledge to provide clean air and unclogged roads as a civic “duty”.      

I used to take green transport to work, cycling a round trip of 14 miles five days a week in the cooler months, and three days a week in the summer.