China has been covered in soot for so long that the people are becoming restless. They enviously stare at the blue skies in other countries and yearn for their own. Looking at a sunset projected onto a vast screen in the center of Beijing is no substitute for the real thing.
That’s making leaders nervous. This week, six new elite planning groups under the head of President Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang held their first meeting. On the top of their agenda, flies on the wall say, is to clean the skies above. Naturally, efforts will start in Beijing. After all leaders can’t possibly have their expensive new suits and shoes dirtied. That would make them look bad in photos posted on social media websites that investigate official corruption.
The city just passed China’s first ever local clean air act to combat smog by banning new heavily polluting industrial plants and expansions of existing ones. China also installed a record number of solar panels last year, for good measure. These installations are mostly in western provinces with little industry and airborne pollution. Perhaps the government will decide to move its urban population there to keep them happy?
Or a more radical solution under consideration, again according to the flies on the wall, is that China will simply try and blow the problem away. Don’t laugh – its already happening in a trial program, according to boffins at the University of California. Winds called “westerlies” are driving airborne chemicals across the ocean and leading to dangerous spikes in contaminants in California and other Western US states, they claim.
All of which could explain the ongoing crisis in the South China Sea, to which China is deploying new patrol vessels. Japan, worried that it might too get downstream pollution if China’s grand plan becomes national policy, plans to erect almighty fans on the disputed Diayou/Senkaku islands to send the clouds of smog back to where they come from.