A Beijing street vendor. Photo posted to Flickr by aadm.
The Chinese capital Beijing keeps beating its own air pollution records. In the last few months, the particulate matter concentration, which is used to calculate the pollution index, has been more than ten times higher than the level considered detrimental to human health by the World Health Organization. This environmental disaster is largely a consequence of Beijing’s enormous industrial activity and its numerous cars.
This has been so harmful to Beijing’s reputation that the city authorities have announced they’re trying absolutely everything they can to improve air quality. They have even started cracking down on street vendors that sell meats which they grill, creating thick smoke.
A skewered meat stand in Bejing. Photo posted to Flickr by Leighgion.
Most of these small mobile food carts are illegal, according to Dang Xuefeng, a city spokesperson. In May, a series of inspection operations were carried out. Food carts in breach of city ordinances face a fine of up to 5,000 yuan (over 600 euros), which is about twice the average monthly pay in China.
But online commenters have been deriding this initiative, claiming that the city would be better off focusing on the big polluters. Here’s one Weibo commenter’s take:
So the city of Beijing’s latest measure against pollution targets barbeque carts? They would do better to investigating the exact origins of the food items being sold on these carts [Editor’s Note: scandals regarding contaminated meat have been in the news lately]. For that matter, stop harassing those who are trying to make a living by working from dawn to dusk. Why not just regulate industries and car pollution? This is getting ridiculous!
This past winter, Beijing authorities promised they would spend 12 billion euros over the course of three years to improve air quality. For the worst of the pollution peaks, they approved the temporary closure of factories. This was all viewed with some scepticism, as many believed that big companies would not go along with the measures.