Friday, July 25, 2008

How information is handled in China

Not related to my running, but in view of the incoming Olympics...

from the news:
"the decision on whether the pollution in Beijing is too high to go on with the competitions during Olympics will be taken not by IOC, but by the local organizing committee BOCOG"

Now a simple example on how information in China is manipulated at all levels to second the government's plans:

Yesterday I was commenting with a local colleague that the weather forecast for the following day was always much milder than the actual temperature reached during the day. Forecast is always with 34C max, while the actual temperature in that moment was well over 36C. Several days in a row like that.
My colleague was adamant to say that the local government does not want to issue a forecast over 35C, because, by law, if the temperature is expected to go over 35C, they need to shut down schools and factories (most of them without air-con). So to keep the business going, it is better to release a "accommodating" forecast and just let the population suffer the extra 2C...

for the Olympics.... I can bet the house that the official data will be of "medium to low pollution, thank to the effort of the Government to clean Beijing's skies"

the "treatment of information" is already starting, as for this article from SCMP...

Beijing applauded for clean-up effort, then the haze floats back
Al Guo
Jul 24, 2008

Beijing's air quality fell yesterday as environmental experts, Olympics officials and the mainland media applauded the city for its efforts to clean it up.

Beijing's composite Air Pollution Index reached 89, following readings of between 50 and 60 on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the first three days of traffic restrictions.

According to the index, compiled by the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, all but five remote suburbs in the city had air pollution levels higher than 80 yesterday, with a couple of districts registering up to 99. Any figure recorded above 100 is considered harmful to health.

Gilbert Felli, the International Olympic Committee's Olympic Games executive director, was quoted by Xinhua yesterday as saying he had been pleasantly surprised to see the improvement of air quality in the past few days.

"I'm very surprised because I thought it would be different but it's much better, much better. You don't feel bad when you breathe, so it looks good," Mr Felli said before the release of yesterday's readings.

State media also praised the city's efforts to curb air pollution in the past few days, saying Beijing could keep its promise to offer Olympic athletes clear air during the Games.

Xinhua published a chart that showed the capital was expected to have 256 clear days this year, compared with 246 last year, 241 in 2006 and just 100 in 1988.

But the official praise was not enough to eradicate doubts that even taking half of the city's vehicles off the roads may not be enough to guarantee better air quality.

"Situations like this could happen even during the Olympic Games, but hopefully we will see air quality continue to improve as we probably need at least a week to 10 days to see the effects from this traffic restriction," environment expert Zhu Tong said.

Mr Zhu said the rise in the index yesterday may have been caused by unfavourable weather conditions in Beijing.

IOC chief Jacques Rogge has warned that some endurance events at the Games may have to be rescheduled if air quality threatens the health of athletes

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Only Australia is Cognizant of Beijing Smog Danger, Sending Team from Hong Kong Training Camp for Event Only; Olympics President Asked to Remove Triathlon, Marathon, and Cycling Out of Deadly Smog

Stephen Fox

Because of concern about air quality, most of Australia’s track and field athletes will miss the Aug. 8 Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing. With events beginning after Aug. 15, one week after the opening, Athletics Australia has chosen to hold its pre-Olympic training camp in Hong Kong. Competitors will then fly to Beijing three or four days before their events.

“As many sports have said, China presents difficulties for athletes going in and being there for a period of time,” Athletics Australia national performance manager Max Binnington. “Anything more than five or six days and they inevitably end up with some sort of respiratory problem. So that was why many of the sports who don’t have to be in there early are choosing not to go in. And the outcome is that it’s almost impossible to go for the opening ceremony.” Australia’s triathletes will also miss the opening ceremonies for similar reasons. “Most of our athletes have accepted the decision straight away."

Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Bejiing organizing committee, stated that nations could be flexible for the opening ceremonies. “Every team can arrange its schedule according to its own plan,” Sun said. “As for the environmental problems, we’ve said many times that we’re confident that we can provide clean air during the Olympic Games.” A plan for Beijing’s notoriously clogged traffic include half of the city’s 3.3 million vehicles being banned each day, using an odd-even system from registration plates.

“Generally those competing of the first day or the second day don’t march, standing up for eight hours a day or so before competition isn’t a medically smart thing to do,” AOC spokesman Tancred said. Australian and Hong Kong physicians have backed this up: see "Medical Experts Say Olympians Face Health and Performance Difficulties in Beijing's Air Pollution from Hong Kong and Australian Physicians: Even Spectators Should Worry!" at:,
an article by Tan Ee Lyn.

Despite IOC President Jacques Rogge's "Beijing air pollution cheer" a few days ago from Lausanne, Switzerland, in which he basically dismisses all of these concerns, I would like you to be aware of my latest articles, which we refer to by URL in order to bring you the photo essay on Beijing smog:

[Title: Jacques Rogge and Olympic Committee: Please move Marathon,
Triathlon, and Cycling out of Beijing's Deadly Air Pollution! Carbon Monoxide, Industrial Pollution, Lead, Particulate Matter, Ozone]

Please also see earlier article:

[Title: Beijing's Infernal Air Pollution Will Kill A Few Olympic Athletes; Most US Athletes Will Wear Masks While Preparing for Their Events]

If you know Olympic athletes, physicians, sports enthusiasts, and internationally minded people, please forward this to them, and to friends and colleagues. If you comprehend that we could prevent a few athletes from inevitable expiration in the Beijing smog, you can also email Mr. Rogge directly:

Stephen Fox, Contributing Editor Santa Fe Sun News

Photo Essay: Close Up of Bird’s Nest Stadium Engulfed in Beijing Smog: olympics-beijing-still-failing-air-quality-test/,0.jpg

One by my wise sardonic friend, James Fallows, Washington Editor Atlantic Monthly: