25 March 2019
Hebei province has some of the worst air pollution in China. Photo: Xinhua
Hebei province has some of the worst air pollution in China. Photo: Xinhua

Smog inspires hit novel by environmental official

China’s pollution crisis has inspired an environmental regulator to write a novel, extracts from which have gone viral online, spurring plans for two more books, Reuters reported.

Smog Is Coming, published in June, touches on fraud and bureaucracy and their impact on air pollution.

Online excerpts have received tens of millions of pageviews, the official China Daily reported.

Author Li Chunyuan told the newspaper his career inspired the book, which draws characters and scenes from his work as deputy director of the Environmental Protection Bureau in the smog-choked city of Langfang in Hebei province.

Hebei, home to seven of China’s 10 worst cities for smog, has been under pressure to cut dependence on heavy industries such as coal, steel and cement.

“It is easier to tell people something through a novel than through boring lectures,” Li said.

The novel features a masked burglar who exploits nightly haze, which clouds the lenses of security cameras, to cover his break-ins — an episode the author said he took from real life.

Some Chinese internet commentators were skeptical, calling the book a propaganda piece.

“It’s good that it touches on an issue that bears on people’s real lives, but let’s hope the government can actually improve the environment too,” one microblogger wrote.

Meanwhile, Chongqing authorities have banned residents from smoking pork to make bacon, blaming the annual tradition for smog, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The city also banned another smoked delicacy, “firewood chicken”.

Many families eat spicy preserved pork and sausages during Lunar New Year festivities.

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