“This Phenomenon Does Not Exist”

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At the Olympic media center this afternoon Beijing environmental officials defended the city’s record on reducing air pollution. When asked about allegations that emissions recording locations were shifted to less polluted areas as part of an effort to cook the numbers, Du Shaozhong, deputy head of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, said, “This phenomenon does not exist.” The reliability of the official numbers was questioned by an op-ed by an environmental consultant in the Wall Street Journal last month. Du said that the city’s air monitoring stations were located in accordance with national regulations. “Reports are different from the official statistics and the reports blamed us,” he said. “This is not fair.”

Du said that emissions had dropped further over January and February and that by the time the Games roll around this August, the city’s air quality will achieve both national and WHO standards. When asked by a journalist from CNN about Beijing’s credibility gap, and reports that athletes are planning to delay their arrival up to the day before competitions to avoid pollution related problems, Du told the gathered journalists to tell the world that the data is real. I still think we need a better explanation than, “This phenomenon does not exist.”