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Beijing Diary: Boycotting Smog Masks Print E-mail
by Tom McGregor    Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 07:51 PM

BEIJING: The HORROR!!! China has pollution problems, while the country continues to enjoy high economic growth rates. Of course, everyone love to have their cake and eat it too. That means they want high-paying jobs while breathing in carbon-free air. However, life really is not like a box of chocolates. You have to accept the good with the bad wherever you live.

When it comes to better job opporunities for Westerners, which country is better: China or Estonia. Perhaps, Vice President Joe Biden would answer, Estonia, but few would consider him the foremost scholar on global economics or any other subject matter. Accordingly, China is enjoying prosperity, but the Western media loves talking about smog masks instead.

There are days when the air in Beijing is so polluted that it looks like another foggy day in London. But even on those days, I never see more than 30% of China-born residents wearing smog masks. However, I do see 90% of foreigners wearing their Hello Kitty masks, but that's only if they were brave enough to walk outside their homes.

I have lived in Beijing since October 2010 and not once have I worn a smog mask. Guess what? I'm still alive and not at death's doorstep. Smog masks act more like a political statement than a medical cure. It's encouraging people to rebel against free market reforms in China. I disagree with that notion and so I refuse to wear a Hello Kitty mask.

It's been 1,000+ days and counting and I haven't worn a smog mask. I don't plan to either as long as I live in this country. Will others here have the courage to do the same?

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Comments (2)add comment
written by Kate , March 21, 2014

I've read a lot of articles on the smog in Beijing, and this must be one of the stupidest.

I live in Beijing too, and I don't wear a smog mask either. It's not political, just never bothered. But we probably should, because not being "at death's doorstep" yet doesn't mean there's no long term health effects.

The Western media has been all over the smog, but it loves talking about China's economic prosperity too. If it didn't, such a huge percentage of Americans wouldn't have the totally incorrect idea that China is more prosperous than the U.S.

If more foreigners than Chinese wear smog masks (and your 30% vs. 90% numbers are ridiculous, smog masks sell out of every 7-11 on a bad day and somehow I still see Westerners jogging maskless in Chaoyang Park) it is just because we're less accustomed to the bad air. But anger about the awful conditions is certainly on the rise among Chinese themselves, who don't have the option to go to Estonia or whatever. They will be the ones who decide how to react to hazardous conditions, surely independently of your attempts not to "encourage people to rebel against free market reforms" by risking your own health.

written by Tom McGregor , March 27, 2014

Sounds like my numbers were not adding up. Beijing had two days of terrible smog. Yesterday I saw 20 percent wear masks and only about 10 percent today.

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