Hong Kong has recently been reintroduced to an important corollary to the “one country, two systems” framework: “one country, one airpocalypse.”
Monsoon winds from the northeast have brought heavy smog hovering over mainland China down to the city of 7 million at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta, leading to poor air quality that poses a “very high” health risk to residents in some districts with Chinese netizens calling it a “gift from the mainland.”
SCMP reports that in Tung Chung, PM2.5 levels hit a high of 141.3 micrograms per cubic meter on Sunday. While this might not seem like much for mainland residents, it is nearly six times the maximum acceptable level recommended by the World Health Organization, not to mention almost double Hong Kong’s own AQI limit of 75.
“Finally, Hong Kong can truly feel part of China,” a Chinese web user joked.
The Hong Observatory predicts that the haze will hang around in the air until a monsoon sweeps it out with cooler and windier weather later this week.
Still, not everyone is convinced that the smog shrouding Hong Kong and the smog covering cities in central and northern mainland China is one and the same.
“According to our database, there is no sign of connection between the very high PM2.5 concentration in northern China and that in Hong Kong,” Professor Jimmy Fung Chi-hung of Hong Kong’s University of Science and Technology told SCMP, arguing that the pollutant particles in the air were produced locally and regionally.
However, mainland China’s smog has a nasty habit of blowing over borders. On January 3rd, South Korea was forced to issue a warning concerning “severe fine dust levels,” while Taiwan also issued warnings against outdoor activities, Quartz reports.
Last year, northern and western Taiwan were enveloped by a thick layer of smog from the mainland as Chinese netizens took joy in mocking their Taiwanese counterparts saying that if there truly is only “one China,” they should all breathe in the same smog and exhorting them to take a deep breath of all the GDP in the air.
“It’s the smog that keeps Taiwan alive. Be grateful!” wrote the controversial middle-aged Taiwanese pop star Huang An on his Weibo account.
In the past, Chinese air pollution has even managed to find its way all the way over the Pacific to the Western United States, setting back progress in cutting down on ozone emissions in the region.
[Images via NetEase]
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