News / Asia

First 'Orange' Pollution Alert as Smog Rolls into Beijing

Cars travel on a road amid heavy haze in Beijing, Feb. 21, 2014.
Cars travel on a road amid heavy haze in Beijing, Feb. 21, 2014.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— China's capital Beijing, under fire to take effective measures against air pollution, raised its four-tiered alert system to “orange” for the first time on Friday, as heavy smog was forecast to roll into the city over the next three days.
 
The orange level, the second highest, advises schools and kindergartens to cancel outside sports classes, but falls short of ordering school to close and keeping government vehicles off the road, provisions which come into force with the “red” level.
 
The alert was raised after the Beijing government faced criticism from state media and on the Internet for failing to act against high pollution levels last weekend.
 
State news agency Xinhua said that the city had dispatched inspectors to factories around the capital, warning that those found breaching emission rules would be fined.
 
The capital was already shrouded in smoky, white smog by Friday afternoon. Data from the U.S. embassy put levels of PM2.5 particles, those measuring less than 2.5 micrometers across and the most noxious form of air pollution, at 378.
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers levels above 300 to be hazardous. Last weekend, the index topped 500.
 
Forecasters said the smog would persist for three days and authorities urged residents to leave cars at home.
 
Some residents welcomed the announcement. Others asked why more was not being done.
 
“Excuse me, but do the PM2.5 measurements have to explode off the charts before we see a red alert?” said a user of weibo, China's twitter-like microblogging service.
 
The stability-obsessed government is keen to be seen as tough on pollution as affluent city dwellers grow weary of a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has tainted much of China's air, water and soil.
 
Authorities have issued innumerable orders and policies to try and clean up the environment, investing in projects to fight pollution and empowering courts to mete out stiff penalties, including the death penalty in serious cases.
 
But enforcement has been patchy at the local level, where authorities often rely on taxes paid by polluting industries.
 
The Beijing government introduced the tiered system last October. But despite several periods of thick smog since then, the plan's stronger measures have never before been introduced.
 
Public discontent about Beijing's dirty air was highlighted on Friday when a Chinese military expert became the object of scorn online after suggesting smog in the city could be a useful defense against a U.S. military laser attack.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid