China’s omnipresent toxic smog isn’t all bad. It obscures potential missile targets, bolstering the country’s military defense, and it…improves affected citizens’ sense of humor? OK, you lost us. Both of those odd claims were championed by Chinese state-backed media on Monday, in what, if we’re being charitable, could be seen as a misguided attempt to make the best out of an untenable situation.Unsurprisingly, these attempts to list the benefits of the country’s widespread air pollution problem were met with harsh criticism. Chinese social media erupted with outrage, showing no sign of the sense of humor supposedly stoked by smog. And, as Reuters reports, Chinese papers were quick to join in on the attack:
While both pieces have since been deleted from their websites, Chinese newspapers lost little time in denouncing their point of view, in an unusual case of state media criticizing other state media, showing the scale of the anger.“Is the smog supposed to lift if we laugh about it?” wrote the Beijing Business Today, published by the city government’s official Beijing Daily. “Smog affects our breathing. We hope it does not affect our thinking.”
It’s likely that someone lost his job over this, and that CCP will come away from this episode somewhat chastened. Maybe this ham-handed whitewashing of a very serious issue would’ve gone over better in the pre-internet dark ages (though even that’s hard to believe), but the Chinese people are finding success in using social media to hold their government accountable, especially when it comes to pollution.