This month of August has been amazing: we’ve been having blue skies and lower-than-usual pollution for several weeks straight. The air quality is usually better in the summer than in the winter, but this month is being especially good. We can even see stars at night! What is going on? Did China start to seriously tackle pollution?…
Ha! You wish! There is a reason why Suzhou and other areas have been seeing unusually clean skies these past days: the G20 summit that will take place in Hangzhou in September 4-5. Presidents and prime ministers from many countries will attend, including Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin. To welcome them, Hangzhou residents have been encouraged to go on holidays, schools and businesses will be closed, tourist areas have new security entrances where everybody has to line up to enter and Muslim restaurants have been closed (check the picture of the tanks in that link). And, of course, polluting factories in several provinces have shut down so those VIP guests can enjoy blue skies and then go back to their countries thinking: “Well, maybe the media exaggerates when they report about the pollution in China! It wasn’t that bad at all!”. It happened the same a couple of years ago, when Beijing hosted an APEC meeting: closed factories and blue skies. The people called the colour of the sky “APEC blue”. Now we have “G20 blue”.
We better enjoy it while it lasts. Next week, after the summit ends, those factories will come back in full force and probably will need to work extra to recover some of the lost time. That would be the best time to take a holiday. Out of the country, of course!