Government’s Secret Behind Blue Skies In Beijing

This past Thursday marked the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II. To celebrate, a commemorative military parade was held in Beijing and the sky displayed a beautiful shade of blue throughout the event.

It sounds quite customary, but for the Chinese capital, it is not.

Government's Secret Behind Blue Skies In China - Clapway

Beijing’s Pollution Temporarily Disappears

Beijing is one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world. Although it’s not currently ranked among the top ten, an average day in the city is overheated with dull grey skies.

So an entirely smog-free day filled with crisp air was meaningful for the people. By Friday morning, however, the sky had returned to its customary state. Many citizens were left baffled by this: how did their polluted sky clear up only on the day of the military parade?

The Chinese Government gave an explanation this Monday.

The Secret of Beijing’s Blue Skies

The Beijing Times reported on Monday morning that officials cleaned up Beijing’s air exclusively for the parade, by suspending or limiting the operations of 12,255 coal-burning boilers, factories, and cement-mixing stations around seven provinces of the country. Nearly 5,700 of these stations are located in Beijing, as well as the Hebei province, which borders the capital. Aside from this, authorities limited the use of the city’s 5 million registered cars. Since this past August, citizens were able to use their vehicles every other day, giving way to two weeks of cleaner air.

Government's Secret Behind Blue Skies In China - Clapway

On Thursday, the Air Quality Index (AQI) of the city was 17 out of 500, which is classified as an excellent score. At midnight, after the parade, all restrictions and limitations were lifted. Consequently, the next morning, the AQI was at 160. That’s enough to cause adverse health effects, as the US Environmental Protection Agency states.

The Resulting Impact

This isn’t the first time the Chinese government took control of the smog levels. Last fall, Beijing was host to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, prompting authorities to bring similar tactics into play in order to improve the city’s air conditions. This gave away to the term “APEC blue”, which was used ephemerally but effectively. The Beijing Times reports that the military parade efforts were fifteen times as extensive as the measures taken for the APEC Summit.

These demonstrations left a deep impression, showing citizens that pollution is, in fact, the fault of the people. However, it can definitely be controlled and brought down until city pollution levels are as low as those in other metropolitan cities. On the other hand, the magic appearance of the blue skies did leave some citizens with doubt. Though the change was welcomed, it is unsettling to think one’s government can manipulate the weather.

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