Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Toast to Breathing Better Air in China

Last night I met two young men, both in their mid-twenties, at a bar / restaurant in Maoming's Maonan District in southeastern China.

two young men holding shot glasses in Maoming, China

After asking them where they had traveled, one said he had been to Beijing. I asked him for his thoughts, and his first and only comment was that Beijing's air was very bad. Later, he explained he didn't think Maoming had perfect air, but it was OK and much better than Beijing's.

About 2 hours away by bus today, I enjoyed the pleasant weather at a waterside park in Zhanjiang's Xiashan District.

park with large ferris wheel in Zhanjiang, China

I spoke to a man I met there who told me he had once visited California.

man raising both of his hands

While describing his travels, he suddenly exclaimed "The sky is very blue there!" He then pointed at the sky above us, which was not a strong blue but still bluer than many others I've seen in China, and said that Zhanjiang's weather and air is much better than either Beijing's or Shanghai's. He felt fortunate to be living in Zhanjiang.

In both cases, I made no mention of air quality or any other related topics before the candid comments. These are not the only times I've heard people in Guangdong, a province with pollution problems of its own, mention air quality as an important factor for them. For example, I have met a number of Chinese in Zhuhai who said they moved there for its better air. They are people you won't regularly have the chance to meet in Beijing or even Shanghai, because they don't want to be there. And they are a sign that not only is pollution "driving top talent away" from China, but it's also on the minds of some Chinese when considering where they live inside of China.

No comments:

Post a Comment