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Sunday, June 8

Pollution reading in Beijing climbs to hazardous

The International Olympic Committee has threatened to postpone events if athletes are at risk from pollution during the Aug. 8-24 Games.
Beijing has spent 120 billion yuan ($17 billion) on measures to improve air quality. From July 20, the city will cut almost half the cars from the roads, limit production at factories and halt construction.

Vice Mayor Ji Lin said in March: ``You can be assured of clean air in August.''

From 'This Recording' via National Review Online:

A million cars have been banned from Beijing, and 200 million trees planted. This is an effort to combat the city’s pollution, which is severe. They have prohibited tobacco for the Olympic period: You can’t smoke on public transport or in indoor workplaces — a real sacrifice for a heavily smoking nation. There will be anti-spitting patrols. Citizens have been admonished to be polite to foreigners. And government workers have been warned to watch their morals: These men are not to have their energies “dissipated by wine and women.”

The name of the Propaganda Department has been changed to “Publicity Department” — for the benefit of English speakers (only). Chinese scientists have been tinkering with the weather, as they are wont to do. They practice “rain mitigation,” and they are doing their best to ensure that no rain, or less rain, falls on the Olympics. And, in order to make way for improvements, and to make Beijing sightlier, the government has razed whole neighborhoods, once filled with traditional huts. There is not much thought to the people displaced.

Westerners marvel at what the Chinese authorities can accomplish, and the speed with which they can accomplish it. They are even envious. An American acting as a senior adviser to the Beijing Olympic Committee said, “The ability to get things done here is really staggering. In Los Angeles, it would take endless discussions to build any structure. Here they decide to do it, and kaboom! It happens.” Yes, dictatorships are known to be good at that sort of thing.

crossposted at BigBrassBlog

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