It turns out the Chinese government can stop the terrible air pollution in Beijing pretty much any time in wants, and has done so on several occasions. However, the breaks in the choking Beijing smog never last for more than a few days as the government of China can only halt the operations of more than 12,250 factories and refineries in the area for so long.
Both the media and locals had been commenting about how smog-free the atmospheric conditions were in the week or so leading up a military parade in Beijing on September 3rd. Indeed, skies were crystal clear for the parade, a massive event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Japan in World War II.
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The very next morning, however, a thick blanket of noxious smog descended over the city again, with residents wondering how the unhealthy pollution had come back so quickly.
More on China smog control efforts for military parade
The state-run Beijing Times unashamedly admits that government officials cleaned up Beijing’s air ahead of the parade by stopping or significantly restricting the operations of 12,255 coal-burning boilers, factories and cement-mixing stations scattered among seven provinces. Of note, more than 5,700 of the impacted businesses were in Beijing and the surrounding Hebei province.
The authorities in China also restricted the five million registered vehicles in Beijing to just driving every other day. Apparently the China smog controls measures were implemented in mid-August and led to two weeks of much cleaner than usual clean air.
Beijing’s air quality index was measured at a reasonably good 17 out of 500 on September 3rd. The very next morning, the AQI hit 160 in some parts of Beijing, levels which are likely to cause even healthy people to experience adverse health effects.
The Beijing Times article noted the emission controls had expired at midnight September 3rd.
Of note, Beijing was the host nation of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit a high-profile late last year, Chinese officials undertook similar measures.
The article also pointed out the government’s efforts to ensure pollution-free skies for its big parade were more 15 times greater than the emissions bans promulgated for the APEC summit last year.