China: Here Are Some Great Things About Toxic Air

China's state-run TV tries to put a positive spin on toxic haze. Nice try, guys, nice try

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ChinaFotoPress / Getty Images

Buildings in Lianyungang, China, are shrouded in smog on Dec. 8, 2013

You can’t make this stuff up. On Sunday, with swaths of eastern China shrouded in a polluted haze, Chinese state media decided to release a list of five “surprising benefits” of smog. Here, courtesy of Wang Lei, an editor for China Central Television’s website, are five good things about bad air:

1. It unifies the Chinese people.
2. It makes China more equal.
3. It raises citizen awareness of the cost of China’s economic development.
4. It makes people funnier.
5. It makes people more knowledgeable (of things like meteorology and the English word haze).

I’d like to think the piece as well-intentioned satire. Perhaps it was. But the article, which has since been pulled, was followed by another piece of pollution promotion. On Monday, the Global Times published a piece that said air pollution might help the Chinese military by obscuring sight lines, reducing the effectiveness of surveillance and weapons systems.

For the most part, China’s netizens were not impressed. “It is a public tragedy that half of China is engulfed in smog, wrote one. “We should not entertain ourselves by this tragedy.” Wrote another: “The smog weather makes CCTV much stupider. They always treat us as fools.”

But there was a rare point of agreement on item No. 4. China’s official attitude to smog is, indeed, a joke.

— With reporting by Gu Yongqiang / Beijing

MORE: China’s Eastern Coast Blanketed in Toxic Haze

VIDEO: A designer in China is making more fashionable masks for people to wear.

123 comments
CedrikThibert1
CedrikThibert1

And they say Socialists/Communists aren't complete nut jobs! 

Fenristheman
Fenristheman

Time should be embarrassed for this type of shoddy reporting. You could have easily linked to the original article in Chinese, and let people machine translate it, but of course it would dismantle the narrative. FYI, Wang Lei is one of the many editors for CCTV, and in contrary to what's commonly depicted, there is no single "state media" in China, and the sector has been undergoing rapid commercialization for some time.


Here's the original article in Chinese. I'll transcribe it for you, or you can Google translate it yourself:


http://view.news.qq.com/a/20131209/012073.htm


1) The author pointed that Beijing is a metropolitan city with routes across the country. Beijing locals have a common stereotype of mocking people from other cities, and in regards to pollution, they claim that Beijing "isn't as polluted as regional towns". The author says that this type of attitude is unhelpful, and compared the fight against pollution with a military action, in that if towns and citizens aren't united in their fight against pollution, they would all fall one by one.

2) The author mentioned that smog makes everyone equal, in that it is something to be faced by people of all wealth and social standards from businessmen to migrant workers. He also attacked rich people with air filters, in that isolation is only a short term solution

3) The author notes that the pollution crisis makes the Chinese more awake and aware, in the being the world's largest factory have its own costs, and clean air isn't something that money can buy. It's just common sense here

4) The author mentioned people making smog related puns and jokes in everyday situations. His purpose is to highlight people's humorous responses to social problems, and staying positive is something needed to fight pollution. He is far from advocating the claim that smog somehow turns people into comedians.

5) The author is commending the awareness and knowledge that Chinese from all walks of life has learned from the pollution problem, and discussion of it is unavoidable whether on TV or in real life. For example, what is particulate matter 2.5, the contribution of cooking smoke towards pollution, the Great Smog of London which killed 12000, what does the term haze and smog mean in Chinese, etc.

6) I'll paraphrase what the author said. "If these are the actual benefits of smog, then the costs are already too high". He also stressed that an united people, an equal society, a clear mind, a sense of humor, and a desire for knowledge, and necessary to fight pollution.


It looks like Time and other outlets like Yahoo and Guardian only translated the author's first sentences and disregarded the rest. The author indeed used a lot of sarcasm and dark humor in the original article, but to claim it as an official propaganda piece is absurd.

Mr_Skeptic
Mr_Skeptic

They better hurry up with those reforms before everybody gets lung cancer

misleadingarticles
misleadingarticles

This article is pathetic and does not help at all. Rascism against Chinese and biased wording...

Londoner214
Londoner214

The government officials would twist the argument by saying this sacrifice is worthwhile to unite the country and make her stronger, and the ultimate goal is to realise the dream of the Renaissance of the Chinese Civilization/Nation. Perhaps a few of the top leaders like Xi have this genuine intention but I am doubtful how many of his counterparts follow this dream and true believer of the Communism.  I believe a similar principle has been applied leading to the 'invention' of the Great theory of "Communism with the Chinese Characteristics" or "One Country Two Systems".

In addition, it is right to get rich this way (as Deng claimed) but Den might not expect so much of the Wealth of the Nation has been shipped out of the country by officials and their family members for personal gains.  Perhaps, the same kind of money may have been invested overseas as sovereignty funds in buying up foreign country bonds, shares, major businesses and infrastructures in order to gain political power on the world stage via economic means.  

China must realise that her competitive advantage will be losing out soon because other former Communist countries already copied the same economic development model to get rich quickly. This mode of development is un-sustainable both economically and politically.  China may be the victim of her own success soon if this continues.  That may also explains the phenomenon why so many middle class and rich people are setting up their second homes overseas, as they can't see any real hope of fundamental change in their life time, a kind of insurance  to safeguard the future of themselves and their offspring. Very sad indeed for any nation which would end up like this.

Londoner214
Londoner214

I trust that the comments of kennedymike speak certain truth of the root cause of this problem.  The government officials don't care about the health or life of her people, and would argue this sacrifice is worthwhile to unite the country together.  While busy making a lot of money through this and shipping the wealth out of the country with their family members.  Learn the trick now??

valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

IN CAPS FOR THE ELDERLY.....DEFEND THE WEAK.....KNIGHT TEMPLARS....


AS AL PACINO PLAYING TONY MONTANA WOULD HAVE SAID OF THE CHINESE.....PRAISING SMOG!!!!....."ARE YOU KIDDING ME OR WHAT"?????!!!!!


VALENTINE, COMEDIAN....LOL


Jbkulp
Jbkulp

It will help the Chinese military by killing enough Chinese so as to remove China as a military threat.

Phillrr
Phillrr

North America has been receiving quite a lot of it for some time as well, with much more on its way to us in the future!

yzpenny
yzpenny

don't laugh, it floats to everywhere in the world.

DaoyiLiu
DaoyiLiu

I have reason to believe that this article is being intentionally misleading. Calling this propaganda sounds more like anti-sino propaganda than anything. China is obviously not at the forefront of environmental friendliness but they are trying. From what I can interpret of those 5 "benefits", the message isn't intentionally a bad one. This is a very typically Chinese way to encourage something, in this case greener living, by sending a positive message rather than guilt trip everyone. It's possibly saying "Pollution is bad, but because we are working together to reduce it, it is making us more unified. We are learning more about our world and our surroundings, and because of this, it uplifts our spirits, so let us continue in our endeavor to improve our country and not give up even if gets tedious". Saying that these points were written about smog without giving us the context in which it was worded is a bit questionable.

In any case, I'd love to see a direct link to the article. Translations are tricky enough in any language, especially a language like Chinese which can be so easily misinterpreted by non-native speakers. Maybe the article was in poor taste, and indeed the government does tend to treat its people a bit too much like children or like they're all still farmers, but framing it like the Chinese government is trying to make people think smog is a great thing seems pretty biased to me.

As for the other article about military defense, again, article in bad taste, but the Chinese can be quite a curious people. I wouldn't be too surprised that they'd mention something like that if not more like a trivia point than an actual propaganda piece.

I am willing to be proven wrong if I come across doubtless evidence from sources by Chinese people in China of all these terrible things that China is constantly accused of doing. I know they are far from perfect, but honestly this article gives me the impression that you are really trying too hard to make China the enemy.

abhi.tysonv
abhi.tysonv

It makes Chinese government more stupid. The people of China are not fools. Do something to eradicate the problem instead of using stupid excuses to beautify it.

KambizFatehi
KambizFatehi

I am Mohammad Kambiz Fatehi. My number patent is 74849 in Iran.Now i am living in Iraq Kurdestan.You can meet me in Iraq Kurdestan department of environment.All of the work for protect your country in china about the dust fall is wrong really.I can sail my patent to your country very expensive if you believe my patent.And i know that i am wright.277000000000 $ is very high for killing the sky. Your problem is colloidic particles that is in dust fall.  solving this problem is very simple for me really.
Thanks

gattacaace
gattacaace

Smog is loverly in China.


May they keep killing their citizens

MelStricker
MelStricker

This only goes to prove you can spin anything.

Beersheva
Beersheva

Take a deep breath China, it's the smell of victory.

EricAschner
EricAschner

In the US cities used to view smog as symbols of their industrial might.  If our city has more smog than your city, then we're obviously producing more and thus better than you are.

BWV208
BWV208

Gee, it sounds just like our politicians who deny the problem of global warming

ron.mandala
ron.mandala

"big black floating specks are good for you"

If you got this reference, without Googling it, you win 1,000,000 points...



rtark62
rtark62

Well only the Chinese could hail something like this. Explains the quality of their products

jackdariver
jackdariver

"I can see their flatulence from here... sorta briny yellow and rising like stink on...." Sarah Palin


Seriously, what goes around comes around and, in this case, they are planting, nourishing, the seeds for their self destruction. They know only what they know, they can't create, they can only duplicate with precision and, in this case, they, like robots, duplicate to their demise.

quieteye
quieteye

Communist Party also has PR about the social benefits of farts.

Fascinating insight.

fankela
fankela

I cannot tell if the newspaper was being sarcastic or stupid. I guess we will never know.

Melcyna
Melcyna

Both, most likely, with the government holding a tight rein on press and this one in particular being their state media, most of their staff probably understand that they print/publish what the government ask (or rather the politburo) and when they write anything they print/publish what government allows.


To do otherwise means either losing your job, or worse having a taste of reeducation camp.


China is not as tight as they used to be, but  if government says publish it to the state media... you do exactly that if you want to keep working there...


Korosuke
Korosuke

Such wit! Much trendy! Very fashion!

kennedymike250
kennedymike250

The Communist Party runs China, and this nonsense about smog being beneficial is a lot of hogwash they foist on their people.  China's central government exerts its power when it wants to, most notably when it wants citizens who complain to shut up and go away, yet it does nothing about the worsening air pollution that is poisoning its people.  That is because high-ranking party members have their hands in all kinds of businesses and industries, including the very ones that generate the pollution. Cleaning up would mean less money in their pockets.

Fenristheman
Fenristheman

@kennedymike250 Except the original article in question actually mocked rich people with their air filters, so try again. Much of the pollution comes also come from non government factors, such as backyard coal furnaces which many rural Chinese use for winter heating and cooking, and the lack of regulations regarding to factories and their pollution, which means pretty much anyone with resources can open a factory regardless of their concern for safety and the environment. Furthermore, in contrary to your claims, the Chinese government is not all powerful and could not regulate all 1.2 billion people on their living habits. In fact, the Chinese government is taking pollution and climate change seriously enough to having signed agreements with the US government and other international organizations. Pollution is actually one issue, if unattended, may piss off the population into revolt, but for now, most Chinese are content with the CCP as long as it could proclaim a economic record in reducing poverty.

chinaman03
chinaman03

yeah, keep laughing boys.  if we stop the smog, you and your kids (that's pretty much the entire US and the west) will walk the streets and schools naked.  your kids will have no toys for christmas, parents will have to wash clothes and dishes by hands. oh, and forget about the iphones, ipads, ieverything you have enjoyed.


you hear that? now, go drink you starbucks off the cups from that smog and be quiet.

MaryLHolman
MaryLHolman

@chinaman03 nah.  I have plenty of clothes and I know how to make my own. I hate iPads etc. I actually know how to wash clothes and make my own dishes out of clay or plastic.  Yah, we knew how to do this before you did.



OlivierDeveau
OlivierDeveau

@chinaman03 There is many countries where we can ask to make our stuff. 
The ''made in China'' label will soon be in the past. Enjoy your economic bubble while it stand little 50 cent troll.

Have_to_Speak
Have_to_Speak

@chinaman03 Strangely we all managed quite well without you before now.  Chinese goods are generally rubbish quality and the more sensible among us avoid them like the plague - some of us have higher standards here in the West and may that number increase soon.

MikeTeall
MikeTeall

@chinaman03 Wrong your days are done, we have 3d printers we don't need china labor, we have plenty of jobs here in the USA.   Plus your all going to die of lung cancer soon anyways from all that pollution.  Keep sucking it in deep.