Fed up with fudged statistics, Beijing’s increasingly environmentally-aware population has forced its government to come clean about air pollution in the city.
“Ordinary people can feel that the air is bad, and see that the sky isn’t blue,” says Meng Si. “When you see that gap for youself, it’s easy to feel disgusted that the government is treating us like idiots.”
That gap became even more obvious and tangible thanks to an independent air-quality monitoring station atop the US embassy. Set up initially for the benefit of the embassy’s own staff, a twitter feed releasing hourly PM2.5 data – and painting a markedly bleaker picture than the government’s own figures – became an internet sensation.