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

Photogallery Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid