Beijing’s Concerns about APEC, Smog

Published on Author fielda17

China’s capital city, Beijing, is set to host the 2014 APEC conference next month.  During this conference, China will host heads of state from 21 different countries, including Barack Obama.  However, this month’s pollution level in Beijing has been extraordinarily high, raising concerns for the health of officials in attendance.

China’s pollution level in major cities is perpetually high.  The measure of PM2.5 particles in the air in China’s cleanest metropolis, Haikou, is on average 26, which for comparison is almost twice that of Los Angeles.  PM 2.5 is a type of airborne particulate which the WHO classifies as a group 1 carcinogen.  Beijing’s average reading of PM2.5 is 90, which is more than 7 times the 12.4 benchmark which the WHO defines as “good”.  However, for three consecutive days this month, October 8-10, PM2.5 readings exceeded 300, levels which prompt the government to advise all elderly and children to remain indoors.

Heavy Smog Hits East China

In an effort to improve smog conditions for the APEC conference on the 10th and 11th of next month, China is initiating drastic programs to reduce pollution.  The government in Beijing will impose odd/even driving restrictions (on certain days cars with license plates ending in an odd number will be allowed onto the road and on alternating days those ending in even numbers will be permitted)  beginning November 3rd and continuing through the end of the conference, a plan that China hopes will reduce the number of cars on the road by at least 35%.  Additionally, Beijing will add 400 public transit buses in an effort to encourage less individual drivers.  Beijing has also declared November 7-12 a public holiday, during which public schools and government offices will be shut down, further reducing travel pollution.  The city plans to halt all construction and demolition projects for the week to reduce amount of dust and smoke in the air as well and to impose pollution restrictions on industries in surrounding provinces.

Sources: Stories by the South China Morning Post, the LA Times, Businessweek and Marketwatch.

3 Responses to Beijing’s Concerns about APEC, Smog

  1. China’s problems with rapid industrialization range from high cancer rates among its citizens to environmental deterioration and bad public image. While the mentioned plans may reduce smog enough for the APEC conference, China must face a much longer problem of the impact of pollution on its citizens and landscape.

  2. I am also curious to see when/if the Chinese government makes legitimate efforts to address the pollution issue across China. Halting all construction plans simply to put on a good facade and mask the problem for 1 week will certainly not address the issue in the long-term.

  3. Let me take a different tack: APEC itself. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation rose as an counterweight (or not so subtle threat) to the European Union, or rather in the preamble to its formalization. Australia’s Bob Hawke was the motive force, though he’d been voted out of the Prime Ministership before APEC got off the ground. South Korea was also active, and then the US and a group in Japan that was able to lobby for their country’s participation. Why? – with fears of fortress Europe, the US and others included more of the global economy than the EU, and they made it clear that if Europe wanted to build a wall around itself, well, more than one could play that game.

    In the end the EU did not evolve in that direction, and while APEC isn’t without function, it never became a big deal. Trade facilitation, such as common customs procedures, on and on — but APEC also hosts an annual summit that in years when the US president participates does play a useful role.

    Now there is an alphabet soup of other organizations — ASEAN, ARF, ASEAN + 3 … and the Six Party Talks focused on North Korea [NKorea, SKorea, Japan, Russia, China and the US are the six].