Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

China's State Media Shows Unusual Transparency in Beijing Smog Crisis

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, January 15 2013

Beijing seen from the International Space Station in 2010 (Wikimedia Commons).

Dangerously high levels of air pollution in Beijing have prompted remarkable transparency from the Chinese state media this week, with the safety of children and others vulnerable to smog apparently trumping censorship mandates.

The media has been reporting openly on the high concentration of toxic particulate PM 2.5, a figure that was previously repressed by the government, as a 2006 WikiLeaks cable revealed. One nightly news program offered a critical editorial from one of its anchors, taking state agencies to task for their failure to curb industrial waste.

Tea Leaf Nation reports that social media has been afire as well, with weibo users swapping pictures of the streets of Beijing and surrounding smog-choked cities, along with screenshots from a host of air quality apps that have experienced a huge download spike. A whole subsection of Internet humor has grown out of the subject; one of the most popular hashtags has become “I don’t want to be a human vacuum cleaner.”

In the past, the Chinese government has touted pollution as one drawback of the country’s meteoric rise to economic prominence. Like Americans in the 1960s and 70s, China’s growing middle class has formed a base for a growing environmental movement — and with the Internet at their disposal, there’s a much wider platform for protest.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

News Briefs

RSS Feed monday >

After Election Loss, Teachout and Wu Keep Up Net Neutrality and Anti-Comcast Merger Campaign

The Teachout/Wu campaign may have lost, but their pro net-neutrality campaign continued Monday as both former candidates participated in a rallly in New York City marking the final day to comment on the Federal Communications Commission's Internet proposals and kept up their pressure on Governor Andrew Cuomo. GO

friday >

NYC Politicians and Advocacy Groups Say Airbnb Misrepresents Sharing Economy

A coalition of New York election officials and affordable housing groups have launched an advocacy effort targeting Airbnb called "Share Better" that includes an ad campaign, a web platform, and social media outreach. GO

First POST: Data Dumps

The Internet Slowdown's impact on the FCC; Uber drivers try to go on strike; four kinds of civic tech; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Positive Sums

How Teachout won some wealthy districts while Cuomo won some poor ones; DailyKos's explosive traffic growth; using Facebook for voter targeting; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Emergence

Evaluating the Teachout-Wu challenge; net neutrality defenders invoke an "internet slowdown"; NYC's first CTO; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

De Blasio Names Minerva Tantoco First New York City CTO

Mayor Bill de Blasio named Minerva Tantoco as first New York City CTO Tuesday night in an announcement that was greeted with applause and cheers at the September meeting of the New York Tech Meet-Up. In his remarks, De Blasio said her task would be to develop a coordinated strategy for technology and innovation as it affects the city as a whole and the role of technology in all aspects of civic life from the economy and schools to civic participation, leading to a "redemocratization of society." He called Tantoco the perfect fit for the position as a somebody who is "great with technology, has a lot of experience, abiltiy and energy and ability to create from scratch and is a true New Yorker." GO

First POST: Fusion Politics

The Teachout-Wu Cuomo-Hochul race as it comes to a close; more criticism for Reddit as it prepares a major new round of funding; First Lady Michelle Obama as an Upworthy curator; and much, much more. GO

More