22 August 2019
A man walks past buildings at night at Beijing's central business district. For security reasons, some  subway stations have been closed during the APEC summit. Photo: Bloomberg
A man walks past buildings at night at Beijing's central business district. For security reasons, some subway stations have been closed during the APEC summit. Photo: Bloomberg

APEC inconvenience ‘no big deal’, says party mouthpiece

Chinese state media has dismissed criticism that Beijing has put the public to various inconveniences by imposing emergency measures to ensure a smooth APEC summit.

Global Times, a sister publication of People’s Daily, said in an editorial that online chatter over new rules shouldn’t be taken as representing the overall view of the public, which is generally supportive of the government’s efforts to play a good host during the key Asia-Pacific meeting. 

Most of the capital city’s residents understand and accept the need for some temporary measures, and complaints in the real world are far less than what one may mistakenly deduce from online forums, said the paper which is known for its hard line stance and hawkish commentaries.

In the editorial last Friday, the paper stressed that all the special arrangements made to ensure blue skies and smooth traffic during the APEC summit are in line with the Chinese tradition of hospitality and that no one should interpret the preparation work from a biased political angle.

In a tone of admonishment, the article notes that the cost is well within the nation’s capacity and that the personal sacrifices sought from the city’s residents are trivial and “no big deal”.

It also points out that all the measures adopted for a clear blue sky — like suspension of all construction work and restricting the vehicles on roads — can be a useful experiment to see how and to what extent Beijing’s filthy air can be purified with stepped-up actions.

The editorial came as people have complained about the hardships they are being made to endure in order to ensure a good time for the visiting foreign dignitaries.

The government’s special measures have brought about relatively cleaner air and reduced the traffic congestion, but they have come at a price, critics say.

For instance, fresh milk has become a luxury as milkmen are not allowed to drive their vans into Beijing. Some residents are without heat as coal-burning has been banned in a few areas, and marriage registration services are also not available for some time.

A notice issued by the property management staff of an office tower near Tiananmen Square has been widely shared on the Web. In the notice, tenants are warned not to get close to windows as there will be heavily-armed snipers on top of surrounding buildings, looking for potential terror threats.

Netizens have wondered whether the special measures will be continued after the summit and if people will have to put up with the new curbs even in future.

Some say Beijing’s air can only get dirtier after the event when the city resumes normal operation and the “pent-up” emissions are unlocked, with construction work and factories likely to step up operations to compensate for the APEC-related delay.

The APEC summit will conclude with a heads of governments gathering on Tuesday. According to the latest forecast, the current blue sky is only temporary as Beijing and a large part of northern China will once again be blanketed in heavy smog in the coming days.

Latest air pollution readings Monday by the US Embassy in Beijing are categorized as “unhealthy for sensitive groups” for most of the hours. The embassy has been monitoring Beijing’s air quality for years with real-time data available on its Twitter account. 

Guangming Daily, another Communist Party mouthpiece, reports that authorities have started implementing contingency plans to enlarge the pollution control area to the entire Hebei province as well as districts and cities in Tianjin and Shandong. 

Factories causing high pollution will be asked to cease production, with the environment ministry conducting random surprise checks, it said.

– Contact the writer at [email protected]


A paramilitary police officer stands in front of the Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, one of the venues for the APEC summit. Photo: Bloomberg

A file photo shows traffic moving through haze in China’s capital city. Beijing’s air quality is likely to worsen in the coming days after a brief respite brought about by APEC-related measures. Photo: Bloomberg

EJ Insight writer

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