Despite government, public complacency, appalling pollution leading to “airwakening”

Globally, China and air pollution remain synonymous. I lived in Beijing between 2002 and 2009, when visits to India invariably included conversations with aunties delightedly commiserating about China's toxic air. "Oh ho! Such terrible pollution. Tch! Tch!" This tone of schadenfreude stemmed from the fact that after years of marveling at China's economic ascent, Indians…
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Delhi, where even China’s pollution fades into insignificance.

Having grown up in perennially polluted New Delhi, smoggy skies were so unremarkable to me that I didn’t even notice anything was awry in Beijing for years after moving there. Till a spring morning in 2006. It was an ordinary start to the day in most respects. I ate a quick breakfast of jian bing,…
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Moving between Beijing and Brussels, “Choked” draws parallels for Delhi

A month after the Olympic Games, our baby boy was born in a Beijing hospital. First-time parenthood engendered a siege mentality in us. We moved out of the charming but less-than-hygienic hutong neighbourhoods we had lived in for six years, and bunkered down in the double-glazed safety of the Diplomatic Compound. We began to navigate…
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When a Billion Chinese Jump by Jonathan Watts

One way of framing the complexity of China’s long history is to understand it as the interplay of ideas between the pragmatic, human-centric precepts of Confucianism and the nature-worshipping, harmony-seeking philosophy of Daoism. This dichotomy between values that stress conquering nature for human benefit and those that emphasise the importance of seeking a sustainable balance…
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