News / Asia

Chinese Millionaire Sells Cans of Fresh Air

Chinese multimillionaire Chen Guangbiao (R) gives a can of fresh air to a man wearing a mask on a hazy day in central Beijing, January 30, 2013.
Chinese multimillionaire Chen Guangbiao (R) gives a can of fresh air to a man wearing a mask on a hazy day in central Beijing, January 30, 2013.
Reuters
China's foulest two-week period for air pollution in memory has rekindled a tongue-in-cheek campaign by a multimillionaire with a streak of showmanship who is selling canned fresh air.

Chen Guangbiao, who made his fortune in the recycling business and is a high-profile philanthropist, on January 30 handed out soda pop-sized cans of air, purportedly from far-flung, pristine regions of China such as Xinjiang in the northwest to Taiwan, the southeast coast.

"I want to tell mayors, county chiefs and heads of big companies: don't just chase GDP growth, don't chase the biggest profits at the expense of our children and grandchildren and at the cost of sacrificing our ecological environment", Chen said.

China's air quality is closely watched as it fluctuates dramatically from day to day but in recent weeks has registered far into the unhealthy zone.

Air pollution is measured in terms of PM2.5, or particulate matter 2.5 micrometers in diameter, which are absorbed by the lungs and can cause heart and lung disease. The World Health Organisation recommends a daily PM2.5 level of 20 and says that levels greater than 300 are serious health hazards.

Beijing's air quality frequently surges past a level of 500, and on Jan. 12 soared to 755, the highest in memory.

"I go outside, walk for about 20 minutes, and my throat hurts and I feel dizzy", Chen told Reuters in an interview on a busy Beijing sidewalk.

He handed out green and orange cans of "Fresh Air", with a caricature of himself on them saying, "Chen Guangbiao is a good man".

"Be a good person, have a good heart, do good things," reads a message along the bottom of each can.

The 44-year-old entrepreneur, whose wealth is estimated at $740 million according to last year's Hurun Rich List of China's super-wealthy, is an ebullient and tireless self-promoter.

He is something of a celebrity in China, with more than 4 million followers on Sina Weibo, China's most popular Twitter-like microblogging platform.

He concedes that his canned-air effort is tongue in cheek, but says it's a way to awaken people to the importance of environmental protection. His campaign is attracting bemusement but also plaudits from the media and from people desperate to escape the smog.

"Beijing's air really needs to improve, so we need a good man like him to appear," said a 21-year-old resident surnamed Hu. "It reminds people to use less fuel and do what they can for Beijing's air".

The cans of air were free on January 30, but usually sell for 5 yuan (80 cents) with proceeds going to poor regions of China, and places of historic revolutionary importance.

Sales, which had been moderate, took off after the recent streak of bad air days, with 8 million cans sold in the last 10 days, Chen said.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Brandon from: Merced
February 05, 2013 9:46 PM
I don't think Frank read the article, instead focusing on the misleading title.

If you do read it, it says he either: hands them out for free as a political statement, OR sells them with the proceeds donated to poor regions of China.


by: Frank from: Orange County
January 31, 2013 3:23 AM
Look! Greedy Chinese make everything a commodity. Chinese will kill themselves by polluting their air before they invade other countries' territories. Communist China's collapse is around the corner.


by: Frog God from: Sacramento, Ca
January 31, 2013 2:16 AM
Mel Brooks came up with the idea first (Spaceballs) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaceballs

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid