Friday, February 08, 2013

Banquet, Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China, Nov 2007

China’s Air Quality Likened to Soup

The incoming President of China, Xi Jinping, has been out and about and making statements to the effect that his administration will be more frugal when it comes to incurring expenses when state officials interact with the populace. This commitment comes at a time when the outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao has been outed on suspicion of enriching himself and his family members from state coffers for sums surpassing two billion dollars. Xi has been quoted as saying that in future when state representatives are to be feted by hosts who normally would put on an extravagant reception, from now on “four dishes and a soup” will suffice. Attached you will see an image of the kind of banquet I have experienced at the hands of generous Chinese hosts, and me just a non-entity. But given also the unprecedented levels of atmospheric pollution China is currently suffering through, then might I suggest that pea soup be proffered? To mix metaphors, you will be able to cut it with a knife from the air roundabout. Apparently 300 ppm of particulate is being registered, when 25 is a World Health Organization standard. Some observers say the 300 is a large underestimate. 600 and even 900 are figures quoted. Wow!