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China Environment

Beijing Red Alert for Smog (Update)

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For more on the red alert for smog, please read our latest Weiblog on the smog alert.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Environment

Beijing Highway Turns Into Massive ‘Parking Lot’ as Smog Disrupts Traffic

On January 2nd, one Beijing Highway turned into a massive ‘parking lot’ as smog prevented cars from entering the city. Aerial photos of the exceptionally long traffic jam attracted the attentions of Weibo netizens.

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As measures to reduce heavy smog prevented cars from entering Beijing on January 2nd, the G4 Expressway turned into a massive ‘parking lot’ with thousands of cars waiting in front of the city’s tollgate. Aerial photos of the exceptionally long traffic jam has attracted the attention of Weibo netizens.

Chinese newspaper Legal Evening News (@
法制晚报) reported on January 2nd how the G4 Jinggang’ao Expressway near the Beijing Toll Gate turned into a ‘parking lot’ as cars were blocked from entering the city.

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Beijing authorities issued an orange alert for smog as the city’s air pollution levels reached hazardous levels. The alert comes within two weeks after a previous red alert for air pollution in the city was lifted. During pollution alerts, car traffic is often limited as one of the various measures to reduce the heavy smog.

On January 2nd, the highway before a Beijing tollgate was completely blocked. Traffic was especially heavy due to many people returning from a small New Year’s holiday. Aerial pictures show just how congested the roads were around 3 in the afternoon.

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On Sina Weibo, many netizens were happy not be caught in the exceptionally long traffic jam. “What do you do when you need to use the bathroom?”, some wondered.

“This looks like a really really big parking lot,” one Weibo user said.
“That’s because we live in a really really big country,” someone else responded.

Legal Evening News reports that the roads were opened and started operating normally later on Monday.

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– By Manya Koetse
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©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Environment

Changzhou “Toxic School” Scandal: Hundreds of Students Fall Sick, Some With Leukemia

News of a contaminated school campus located near a chemical factory in Changzhou has become top trending topic on China’s social media on April 18. Due to the school’s severely polluted water and air, nearly 500 students have fallen ill – some with leukemia.

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News of a contaminated school campus located near a chemical factory in Changzhou has become top trending topic on China’s social media on April 18. Due to the school’s severely polluted water and air, nearly 500 students have fallen ill – some with leukemia.

News of a polluted school area in China’s Changzhou (常州), Jiangsu province, that has left hundreds of students seriously ill, has hit Chinese netizens hard. State broadcaster CCTV reported the news on Saturday, with more details coming out the following days.

Students of Changzhou Foreign Language School fell ill after the middle school had moved to a new area in September of 2015. Soon, students started developing unusual health problems, such as severe skin reactions. These problems started surfacing when pupils got sick at the end of 2015. CCTV launched an investigation after concerned parents suspected a connection between the new school campus and their children’s illnesses.

By now, of the 641 students that have had medical check-ups, 493 students are confirmed to suffer from dermatitis, bronchitis, blood abnormalities, and other illnesses. There are also cases of cancer and leukemia. After several tests, the school’s air and water were found to be polluted due to three chemical plants that were housed near the premises of school campus, Sina News reports.

6aJQ-fxriqri6656866Students started getting skin reactions after moving to their new school (CCTV).

The news has become the focus of discussion on WeChat. On Sina Weibo, netizens are also responding to the news in great numbers, making the topic “Polluted School” (#被污染的学校#) a top trending topic.

On April 17, CCTV reported on its official Weibo account that according to China’s Ministry of Education, the school’s site had an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment, 环评) before moving the students there. The report noted that the soil and groundwater on the north side of the school were contaminated, forming a risk to human health – strictly prohibiting the school from using the water.

In a CCTV13 news report filmed at the school’s premises, students report that the water at school tasted “funny” and “sour”.

Changzhou Daily has released a statement on its Weibo account that the local government is currently investigating the case and that they have “zero tolerance” for pollution.

Netizens have responded in anger over the scandal, and the contrasting facts that are surfacing: “Either Changzou Daily or CCTV is lying,” one netizen says.

“Now that the details are being exposed, I just have one question: is this still a human world? I first always thought I would stay in China and wait for things to get better and if possible help them to get better, but now this madness is overwhelming. I can’t be sure that I will stay, but I want to stay,” one netizen nicknamed Riffharrise writes.

Now that so many students have fallen ill, some netizens wonder what this means for the employees of the chemical plants near the school.

One netizen, who says he is a school teacher in Changzhou, has posted photos of armed police at the school’s premises, where people allegedly have been protesting – yet this has not been officially confirmed.

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One netizen named Xiao Zhuzi writes: “Why is it always the common people who suffer the consequences? Why is it always that these kind of problems are only handled after they are exposed by the media? No matter what happens next, the victims are still victimized. If you take the stinger out, the sting will still be there. I love my homeland, but there’s nothing sweet about it.”

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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