The US embassy in Beijing and US consulate in Shanghai tweet regularly their measurements of the pollution in those cities. No allowed, said a representative of the environmental authorities in China this week. Denying the problem is not going to help, tells business analyst Shaun Rein in Marketplace.
Rein: It’s a real shame that the government would take this stand. Everybody knows that pollution is a horrible problem in China, in fact, we interviewed 5,000 consumers in 15 cities last year and their biggest concerns in life were food and product safety, and pollution. It’s starting to really effect everybody, and so it’s not a state secret or anything like that for people to know that pollution is really starting to impact the quality of life for everyday Chinese.
Brancaccio: Have you heard of this Twitter feed that the U.S. embassy was putting out — monitoring pollution levels?
Rein: I think everybody has heard about it because this is the first time that we were able to hear exactly how bad the micro-particles were in the air. Right now, the Chinese government didn’t release how much — 2.5 micro diameter — particles were in the air. We were relying on more outdated information on the quality of the air so based on that system, the Chinese government was saying that the air was actually quite good and starting to improve. But that sure as heck isn’t how it feels for people like me who live here on a day-to-day basis.
Brancaccio: Of course monitoring is one thing, doing something about the problem is another.
Rein: I think the Chinese government should actually spend more time fixing the pollution issues in China — you know, getting rid of some of the coal burning and farmers that are burning refuse on a day-to-day basis — rather than complaining about what everybody already knows and what the U.S. government is doing on Twitter.
Shaun Rein recently published his book “The End of Cheap China: Economic and Cultural Trends that Will Disrupt the World.” More about his book in Storify.