China | Breathtaking – images of China's toxic winter smog
  • A man smokes on his bicycle in Beijing. Photo: Reuters / Stringer
    A man smokes on his bicycle in Beijing. Photo: Reuters / Stringer
  • Shengfang, Hebei province. Photo:  REUTERS/ Damir Sagolj
    Shengfang, Hebei province. Photo: REUTERS/ Damir Sagolj
  • Swimming in a lake in Beijing. Photo: China Daily via Reuters
    Swimming in a lake in Beijing. Photo: China Daily via Reuters
  • Flag-raising ceremony, Tiananmen Square. Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee
    Flag-raising ceremony, Tiananmen Square. Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee
  • Pollution in Shenyang, Liaoning province. Photo: Reuters / Stringer
    Pollution in Shenyang, Liaoning province. Photo: Reuters / Stringer
  • A lonely figure in Tianjin. Photo: Reuters
    A lonely figure in Tianjin. Photo: Reuters
  • Stone monkey sculptures at Beijing Zoo. Photo: AFP
    Stone monkey sculptures at Beijing Zoo. Photo: AFP
  • The Bird's Nest, seen through a glass darkly. Photo: AFP
    The Bird's Nest, seen through a glass darkly. Photo: AFP
  • A paramilitary policeman at Tiananmen Square. Photo: Reuters/ Damir Sagolj
    A paramilitary policeman at Tiananmen Square. Photo: Reuters/ Damir Sagolj

Breathtaking – images of China’s toxic winter smog

Northern China is laboring under appalling conditions, with authorities on the back foot as public dissatisfaction grows

December 22, 2016 12:58 PM (UTC+8)

Northern China continues to labor under stifling pollution that has persisted for almost a week. Flights, traffic and shipping have been disrupted, schools and factories have been closed, and residents have expressed dissatisfaction at the efficacy of anti-smog measures.

More than two dozen cities have issued pollution red alerts, which are issued when the AQI (air quality index) is forecast to exceed 200 for more than four days in a row, 300 for more than two days or 500 for at least 24 hours.

On Wednesday, concentrations of hazardous breathable particles known as PM2.5 were at a dangerous 360 micrograms per cubic metre in Beijing, according to official data. The safe recommended level of PM2.5 is 10 micrograms, according to the World Health Organization.

The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, known as Jing-Jin-Ji, has been at the forefront of China’s efforts to cut pollution and has pledged to cut emissions of PM2.5 by 25 percent over the 2013-2017 period.

As the haze has thickened, impacting everyday life, it has been reported that “smog refugees” are attempting to evacuate. Ctrip, China’s leading online travel agent, has said it expects 150,000 people to flee the smog by traveling to places like Australia, Indonesia, Japan and the Maldives.

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