Chinese police appear ready to crack down hard on polluters this winter, starting of course with cold construction workers.
Recently, a special police task force has been dispatched in the Shanxi city of Xinzhou to patrol around town, keeping their eyes open for any sort of atmospheric crimes. One night they happened upon a local construction site where they spotted three separate outdoor coal fires.
After officers entered the site to investigate, staff quickly extinguished the fires. Relevant personnel were then summoned to the police station for questioning. There, a worker surnamed Wang admitted that he and his colleagues lit the coal fires to keep themselves warm as they worked overtime during the cold winter night.
Noting that the outdoor fires had released thick smoke containing high concentrations of sulfur dioxide and other harmful substances into the air, police decided to detain Wang for five days for violating China’s Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law. This is the first time that the city of Xinzhou has punished someone for violating the law, the China News Service reports.
The news was met on Chinese social media with a familiar mixture of cynism and satire, coming just as the city of Beijing is in the process of evicting thousands of migrant workers from their homes, throwing them out into the cold with sometimes as little as 15 minutes warning.
“By 2020, China will eliminate poverty,” sardonically wrote one Weibo user in reference to Xi Jinping’s pledge to lift all Chinese people out of extreme poverty by that year. Here are some more netizen comments:
“Socialism is good. Socialism is wonderful.”
“Now what are they supposed to use to keep warm, are they to rely on shivering?”
“Go to sleep holding the Communist Manifesto, let faith keep you warm.”
“Only officials can set fire, common people aren’t allowed to light up.”
“Amazing, I was so scared that I put out my cigarette immediately, I don’t want to go to prison.”
China has stepped up efforts this year to address its severe air pollution problems. For instance, this winter, the city of Beijing has banned all construction projects in an attempt to ward off annual airpocalpyses that smother the capital. Meanwhile, millions of homes in northern China are being switched from coal to natural gas heating.
However, there has been criticism that Chinese authorities are still failing to go after the real sources of smog. Back in March, for the first time ever Beijing put someone behind bars for air pollution. That person? A worker at a local heating company.
[Images via ChinaNews]