Chinese Elite Breathe Cleaner Air Than Their Countrymen

By Douglas Main | November 7, 2011 1:11 pm

Chinese smogBeijing smog as seen from the China World Hotel, March 2003.

While top Chinese government officials have many advantages in terms of wealth, education, and status compared to most of their countrymen, the consolation remained that the rich had to breathe the same polluted air as the poor in smog-ridden cities like Beijing. But as a story in the New York Times points out, that may not be entirely accurate:

As it turns out, the homes and offices of many top leaders are filtered by high-end devices, at least according to a Chinese company, the Broad Group, which has been promoting its air-purifying machines in advertisements that highlight their ubiquity in places where many officials work and live. The company’s vice president, Zhang Zhong, said there were more than 200 purifiers scattered throughout Great Hall of the People, the office of China’s president, Hu Jintao, and Zhongnanhai, the walled compound for senior leaders and their families. “Creating clean, healthy air for our national leaders is a blessing to the people,” boasts the company’s promotional material, which includes endorsements from [leaders like] Long Yongtu, a top economic official who insists on bringing the device along for car rides and hotel stays. “Breathing clean air is a basic human need,” he says in a testimonial.

Basic human needs, it seems, need only be met for the elite. The news comes during a period of especially bad air pollution, in which the Chinese capital has been shrouded in a “beige pall” and the United States Embassy’s rooftop air monitoring device has for weeks repeatedly reported unsafe levels of particulate matter.

[via The New York Times]

Image: kevin dooley / Flickr

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Health & Medicine
  • rich

    This is possibly how we (the u.s.) even up with the expansion of the chinese economy. They have wonderful production capabilities because of their lack of environmental regulations. Maybe the wealthy will choose to retire to somewhere with clean air. Maybe the u.s. can be that place. Interesting however it turns out.

  • Carolyn

    This makes me grateful for our clean air. Whether or not one is in favor of environmental regulations, it’s hard to deny how nice it is to breathe easy.

  • Carolyn

    *in the U.S. :)

  • Steve D

    Surely it wasn’t that hard to get a picture of real smog instead of ordinary fog (note the ground is wet).

  • Michelle

    This is what our own elite want…a pillaged world where only they have access to clean air and luxuries. The words communist and capitalist are meaningless holdovers of another area. We are in the era of plunderers who don’t care about anyone except themselves.

  • Cathy

    This is one place where government regulation in the US is working as intended. Thank you, EPA. Thank you, emissions testing in major cities. Thank you, environmentists who firmly believe that the success of business doesn’t necessarily depend on the business’s ability to pollute as it will. I’d rather have “job-killing regulations” (never proven, by the by) than people-killing pollution!

  • AC

    We need to impose wage-differential import tariffs and environmental-protection import tariffs of Chinese goods.

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