The Chinese government reportedly shut down a popular app that tells its users exactly how toxic is the air they’re breathing in. As heads of state descended on Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the app was told to stop using data from the U.S. embassy there, which is believed to provide the most accurate measurement of the city’s toxic smog. The New York Times reports:
Just before noon on Monday, one of China’s most popular air quality monitoring apps stopped providing data from a device that sits atop the roof of the United States Embassy in Beijing. The app, China Air Quality Index, continues to provide readings from monitoring stations run by the Chinese government, but those readings tend to provide a rosier portrait of pollution levels in the capital and are viewed somewhat skeptically by many Beijing residents.According to one of the app’s creators, Zhang Bin, a “relevant government department” had notified the company that it could no longer provide data from the United States Embassy in Beijing. The app, which provides air quality readings from cities across China, has been downloaded six million times.
China shut down energy-intensive factories and coal-fired power plants ahead of APEC meetings this week, but it looks like even those drastic short-term measures weren’t enough to bring air pollution down to acceptable levels. Sinocism‘s Bill Bishop reported that winds have picked up recently, which has helped clear the blanket of smog draped over the megacity. But unless China can “figure out how to make wind on demand,” as Bishop quipped, the city’s residents will still struggle with the health problems and material damages this pollution brings, long after APEC’s attendees have returned home.