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China Restricts U.S. Embassy from Tweeting Air Quality
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June 07, 2012

China Restricts U.S. Embassy from Tweeting Air Quality

By Julie Griffin
Contributing Writer

The weather in Beijing is 91 degrees Fahrenheit with 44 percent humidity.

This is information anybody can obtain for themselves through major search engines, and is publicly aired on Chinese local weather channels. But for people who want to know more about current smog conditions and other updates related to air quality, they would more than likely turn to the U.S. Embassy’s Twitter (News - Alert) feeds, which supply people hourly reports.

If the Chinese government has its way, however, these reports could soon come to an end. Will China's efforts to stop the U.S. Embassy's air quality reports be yet another area of contention between Chinese and U.S. government?

International press revealed that last Tuesday, the Chinese government requested that the U.S. Embassy cease the hourly air quality updates on Twitter because Chinese law prohibits anybody outside of the government to access this information. But Mark Toner of Washington’s State Department indicated to the Associated Press (News - Alert) that the embassy has no plans to abide by these Chinese regulations any time soon.

The American Embassy’s @BeijingAir Twitter account has over 20,000 followers. Various reports claim over 100,000 people live in China, the majority of which actually populate the separate territory of Hong Kong.

More than 10,000 Americans live in Beijing, and although it’s no secret to populations residing in major Chinese cities that the air quality is subpar, Chinese and U.S. organizations have differing opinions about when levels of toxics are high enough to voice concern.

The U.S. Embassy’s report tweeted last Tuesday is an example of how U.S. environmental groups and Chinese government officials disagree over the amounts of pollutants that are cause for concern. The amount of a “fine particulate matter” in the air was at levels that the U.S. Embassy reports as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

China disagrees that the 47 micrograms were anything but “good” conditions. Additionally, those who side with the Chinese government believe the U.S. has standards that are impossible to uphold for a country that is still in a “development” stage.

Edited by Braden Becker

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