News / Asia

    Heavy Smog Sparks Online Fears in Chinese City

    A pedestrian walks across a bridge above a main road on a day with high air pollution in Beijing, June 6, 2012.A pedestrian walks across a bridge above a main road on a day with high air pollution in Beijing, June 6, 2012.
    x
    A pedestrian walks across a bridge above a main road on a day with high air pollution in Beijing, June 6, 2012.
    A pedestrian walks across a bridge above a main road on a day with high air pollution in Beijing, June 6, 2012.
    VOA News
    Chinese authorities Tuesday denied rumors of a poisonous industrial leak in the city of Wuhan, in central Hubei province, after a thick yellow fog engulfed the city and its surrounding area starting early Monday morning.
     
    The province's environmental protection department said on its web site that the smog was the result of straw burning, but advised people to stay indoors as much as possible and wear a protective mask outside.
     
    "We exclude any industrial pollution causes behind this abnormal weather," the note said.
     
    Speculation online had linked the unusually heavy smog with an industrial leakage, and users posted pictures of Wuhan engulfed in smog, next to photos of the same location on a clear day.
     
    Local police posted an announcement online Tuesday saying that they had detained two Internet users who had spread rumors about the unusual haze.
     
    According to the police, the users had claimed that the poor atmospheric situation was caused by a chlorine leak at a chemical factory, or by an explosion at a steel plant. Noting that such false information had "caused panic among the netizens," Wuhan police advised people to be wary of Internet rumors.  
     
    Later on Tuesday, the topic of "Wuhan haze" was trending high on Chinese microblog Weibo, with some people remaining skeptical of the official explanation.

    "Industry explosion still seems like the true version of events," one Internet user from Wuhan wrote on his microblog. "Then I might delay my plans to come back to Wuhan," a friend responded.
     
    Wuhan's level of PM10 - polluting matter smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter - was more than three times the daily average, Chinese state media reported.  
     
    Straw burning, which officials point to as the culprit of Wuhan's yellow haze, also affected the air quality of Beijing before the start of the 2008 Olympic Games, with city officials imposing temporary bans on wheat straw burning in neighboring provinces.
     
    Air quality is a major issue in Chinese cities, where official measurements often show lower levels of pollution compared to outside sources.
     
    The U.S. Embassy in Beijing has installed a pollution monitor on its roof, and for three years has been providing hourly updates on the quality of the capital's air. In most cases, such readings showed much more severe levels of pollution than the ones recorded by Beijing's Municipality Environmental Monitoring Center.
     
    Last week, deputy environment minister Wu Xiaoqing told reporters that the U.S. initiative was illegal, and that only the Chinese government was allowed to measure and publish information on air pollution.
     
    On Tuesday, Liu Weimin, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, did not give details of the situation in Wuhan, but acknowledged that air quality is a grave challenge to China in the course of its development.
     
    "China is making every effort to further improve the air quality," he said, but added that the country is still at the initial stage of the industrialization process.
     
    "The issue of air quality is unlikely to be solved overnight," Liu said.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    You May Like

    Greenpeace Leak: US-EU Trade Deal Would Favor Corporations

    Activist group leaks classified documents to 'shine a light' on talks that could create the world's largest bilateral trade and investment pact

    Video Ethiopia's Drought Takes Toll on Children

    East African country’s crops failed in 2015, creating food shortages for 10 million – including 6 million children whose development may be compromised

    What Your First Name Reveals About Who You Vote For

    People named Chad are more likely to be Republicans and Jonathans are usually Democrats

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: John from: Wuhan
    June 15, 2012 7:26 AM
    I was visiting Wuhan during the smog, and it worried me much, so much that I left early from a 3 week visit. I hope that foreign consulates will publish air quality of Chinese cities on a daily basis, because I am sure most people do not trust the official reports.

    by: Wangchuk from: NYC
    June 14, 2012 9:46 AM
    The US Embassy should go on reporting the actual air quality in Beijing. US Consulates in other Chinese societies should also independently report the local air quality. The pollution information from CCP sources is inaccurate & they use a lower standard than many other countries. People in China need accurate pollution information, not political propaganda from the CCP.

    by: Vaméri from: US
    June 12, 2012 2:08 PM
    They have eagered to make giant leaps on economic developement but they relax on polution standard, air and water polution are terrible in China and Vietnam. Big corps are busy making money at the expense of people health.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora