Red alert in Beijing, China 中國北京的紅色警戒

Wed, Dec 16, 2015 - Page 11

As the air pollution becomes too severe, China’s Beijing Municipality issued its highest-level red alert on Monday last week. Pollution of this magnitude has also sparked all kinds of jokes and ridicule on the Internet.

Because of the red alert, the Beijing city government advises high schools, elementary schools and kindergartens to suspend classes and calls on businesses to practice flextime. Except for electric vehicles, cars with even license plate numbers are ordered off the streets on odd dates and those with odd numbers are banned on even dates. Heavy-duty motorcycles are prohibited.

Chinese democracy movement leader Wang Dan, writing on his Facebook page, quoted a joke that has gone viral in Chinese forums. “A man visited Beijing and asked me, ‘Why are you Beijing people so proud of yourselves?’ Without saying a word, I took a deep breath and stared at him with a smile. He did not think it was a big deal and copied what I just did. He took a deep breath and…passed away at the age of 36.”

A netizen responded, “When Shanghai was hit by smog there was another clever piece of dark humor: ‘The longest distance in the world is when we stand together on a Shanghai street: I hold your hand but cannot make out your face.’”

In the meantime, searches for things like face masks and air purifiers have increased on Chinese online shopping Web sites, and condoms are also among the sought-after products. The government-run China Daily newspaper explains, “People want their children to grow up in a good environment, so they do not want to get pregnant when the air quality is so bad.”

(Liberty Times, translated by Ethan Zhan)