Beijing Authorities Are Publicly Pointing Their Finger at Polluters in Hope of Shaming Them

In case you missed it, Beijing has spent most of this week under air pollution red-alert following an air pollution index of ten times over the maximum World Health Organization recommended value.
Beijing pollution 1 photo
Photo: LWYang on Flickr
That meant schools were shut down, half the cars were banned from the roads and even some factories were put on hold. The result was a drop of 30 percent in the general pollution level, which means that the air quality in China’s largest city is still sub-par, but at least it’s getting better.

Now, Beijing authorities have thought about another measure of cutting down pollution at a lower level by publicly naming and shaming businesses and residential complexes that don’t play by the rules and ignore anti-pollution guidelines.

The local environmental agency (believe it or not, it actually exists) has raised the number of inspectors out on the field, but besides the regular issuing of fines and dismantling the faulty equipment, its agents are now doing something else: they’re taking photos of their findings.

Well, they might had been taking photos before too, but until now they were only kept as evidence. Now, though, Beijing’s environmental agency is using its Weibo account (in brief, China’s version of Facebook) to show publicly who’s responsible for the city’s smoggy air.

According to Mashable, only last month, the inspectors found hundreds of violators among which there were apartment blocks using coal-heated water boilers, artisanal car-painting shops or factories and construction sites that generated exceeding quantities of dust.

While this tactic does have some chances of succeeding in humiliating those targeted - honor and dignity are very important in the Chinese society - it will probably do little to curb Beijing’s real problems, which lie with state-operated activities like coal power plants and large construction sites, together with the ever-growing fleet of vehicles.

What’s more, Beijing has a history in going witch-hunting when it comes to pollution, having launched an attack against street food vendors in 2013 for their coal-burning barbecues. No less than 500 of them were destroyed then, and the results were very clearly seen at the beginning of this week. With no action taken against the real big polluters, it seems like Beijing is doomed to live under a blanket of dust.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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