Residents of Beijing have coined a new term to describe the rare blue skies over the Chinese capital -- APEC blue -- alluding to the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, summit and “something that is pretty, but temporary,” according to a report by BBC. Beijing is usually shrouded in thick smog, earning the city the dubious distinction of being one of the world's most polluted cities.
“He’s not really into you -- it’s an APEC blue,” a Chinese netizen commented online. The words “Beijing smog,” on the other hand, have come to symbolize something permanent and persistent. The Chinese government in recent days has reportedly undertaken massive efforts to ensure that the air in Beijing is breathable as delegates from 21 nations, including U.S. President Barack Obama, arrived for the two-day summit.
Xi & Abe finally meet. #APECblue?
— Maria Byrne (@byrnechina) November 10, 2014
“He’s so into you, it’s like Beijing smog on a December Saturday,” another joke circulating online read.
The government has reportedly closed hundreds of factories since Nov. 1 and has forced most cars off the road. Most government employees have also been given a holiday from Nov. 7 to Nov. 12, according to media reports.
Wonderful cycling in Beijing yesterday afternoon...Blue sky and clear roads (except for miles of sweetcorn of course) pic.twitter.com/osoxAJ1JvG
— Steve 史進 (@ChineseCurrents) November 6, 2014
For many Chinese citizens, however, the real issue is not the air pollution itself but how the government treats long-existing problems differently in the presence of foreigners.
“Foreigners' praise means a lot to Chinese,” Liu Yuanju, a Shanghai-based columnist wrote in his blog.
“The sky is really blue, but it isn't for us! How sad,” a Beijing resident reportedly wrote on Weibo -- the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. “Turns out that we could have blue skies. I hope that Beijing will have these big conferences non-stop.”
However, the government’s efforts to clean up the skies have been only partially successful. According to a report by The Washington Post, on Monday afternoon, the air quality monitor at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing reported a reading of 157, a measurement that is classified as “unhealthy.”
— Nicole Sy (@clickanic) November 10, 2014
Many people also expressed fears that after the APEC summit, there could be an uptick in air pollution as factories ramp up production to make up for their losses.
“After the APEC blue, I predict that there will be ‘revenge smog,’” Bai Bangni, a Beijing-based columnist, said on Weibo.