Factories have been closed along with schools and flights have been cancelled in China. It is not because of industrial unrest or natural disaster. It is because of atmospheric pollution, very man-made, and increasingly deadly for both the Chinese people and the economy.
This air quality red alert is just the latest of many.
“The smog here lasts almost all day every day. I have been here for eight years, and have almost never seen blue skies,” said one Beijing resident.
Although China has made strides in ending the use of dirty energy like coal 2016 has gone down as a black year in terms of health and lost production due to poor air quality.
As the economy slows China is keen to seek ways of restoring growth, and every pollution peak requiring drastic measures brings home the urgency of the country’s task.