Citizens of Beijing find it harder to breathe in the polluted city air

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By Mujie Cui

Five years ago, I graduated from school in Beijing, China. It was summer, around the time of the 2008 Olympics.

The pleasant smell of flowers and freshly cut grass perfumed the air. To me, it was really beautiful.

Two weeks ago, I went back to China and stopped in Beijing for one day.

The sky was smoky and I could hardly see anything clearly. What had happened? A woman working in the Beijing International Airport complained to me, “There is only a clear sky in Beijing once or twice a month.”

A blue sky, a common sight in America, is now synonymous with luxury for most Chinese people.

Two months ago, the existence of PM (particulate matter) 2.5 was the cause of a great amount of attention on Beijing’s growing environmental hazards.

China’s GDP growth rate leapt from 17 percent to 70 percent in 30 years.

The main cause of PM 2.5 is waste discharge from chemical companies, which represent the main driving force of Mainland China’s economy.

Countless foreign companies have moved their heavy pollution factories to China in order to defer environmental pollution from their own country.

Initially, the opportunity for China to increase its economic development at an unbelievable speed seemed like a good idea.

However, extreme industrial development has proved to be counterproductive.

Air pollution has caused dizziness, insomnia, difficulty breathing and coughing along with other symptoms for residents that live in close proximity to factories.

Likewise, a lake on the Jinan University West Campus has become so polluted that the fish have died and the water has turned black.

It is true that China’s economy cannot survive without chemical industry, but putting GDP before resident health is irresponsible and is not a permanent solution or sustainable solution to economic development.

What is the benefit of wrecking the treasure of the nature? The GDP earned by chemical factories in 10 years cannot compare with the price to restore the natural environment. The cost to restore the environment would be more than 30 years’ profit made by chemical factories.

On the surface, China’s modern architecture indicates the success of economic development, but I’d prefer decreased emissions and less chemical factories for a healthier, more pleasant China.

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