Airpocalypse NOW: China’s netizens slam smog spin sham

12 Dec

smog spaceIn the world of spin there are few who can claim to have reached the very pinnacle of their art. Alastair Campbell swore and bullied New Labour to three general election victories. Fair play you horrible man. Shane Warne managed somehow to put Liz Hurley in such a spin that she had sex with him….more than once by all accounts. Then there is Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan, probably the greatest spinner of all time, who bowled himself to 800 First Class wickets.

They all pale in comparison with the Communist Party of China, who this week via state-controlled media tried to put a positive spin on the country’s airpocalyptic smog problem. The article on national broadcaster CCTV’s web site incurred such a savage backlash from the country’s feisty netizens that it was soon withdrawn, but the Streisand effect has been at full throttle ever since. The broadcaster clearly needs to learn a thing or two from the Daily Mail about link-baiting. If you’re going to post something this offensive you might as well leave it up to get the clicks.

In short, the article highlighted “five surprising benefits from China’s haze”. Not “deadly and entirely man-made fog”, you understand, but “haze” – as one might see on a hot summer’s day in Kensington Park. Whether it was a jokey attempt to play down the carcinogenic clouds that have closed down major cities including Shanghai and Harbin in recent months, is unclear. One thing that is though – if you’re a mouthpiece of the central government, don’t make light of a problem which is causing people to quite literally cough up their lung sacks.

So without further ado, here are the five benefits of cancerous smog as translated by Tea Leaf Nation (comments added by your Noodle):

  • It brings China together. Yup, smog is EVERYWHERE – it affects cities big and small, towns and villages. British people love to talk about the weather – it’s the social glue that holds the nation together. In China they can’t because, well, they can’t see the weather.

  • It makes Chinese people more equal. Kind of a development of the last point. The idea here is that choking smog is indiscriminate – all must kneel before its deadly power. The only slight problem with this argument is that the families of Communist Party members either live abroad or rarely even need to visit the outdoors. They simply glide along on floating money from one air conditioned luxury shopping mall to another.

  • It gives the Chinese an opportunity to display their fabulous sense of humour – cracking wise about the smog. Well, the author certainly misjudged that one.

  • It raises awareness about pollution. Yup, fair point. But awareness has been raised now. I think people would generally quite like their kids to begin breathing non-carcinogenic air.

  • It makes people more knowledgeable. Again, kind of similar to the previous point, but also similarly trumped by the fact that the whole choking air thing is getting a bit old now. The author apparently postulates that “our knowledge or meterology, geography, physics, chemistry and history has progressed” thanks to the smog, and locals have even learned the English words for “haze” and “smog”. Perhaps the author has learned the words for “unpaid leave” by now too.

    For the record, things have gotten so bad on the smog front that Beijing has even been forced to enlist the help of one of its supercomputers – the Tinahe-1A, to help crunch some numbers. The hive mind will be tasked with analysing what conditions foment the perfect smoggy storm so they can be avoided in the future. No doubt the power-hungry supercomputer will be fuelled by a lovely clean coal power station. Oops.

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