China will close 150 factories to make sure Shanghai Disneyland has blue skies

It’s a smog world after all.
It’s a smog world after all.
Image: Reuters/Aly Song
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What will Disneyland with Chinese characteristics look like? Potentially bleak and gray, thanks to the air pollution that plagues Shanghai, where mainland China’s first Disneyland is slated to open in the first half of next year. That could make a day at the park not so picture-perfect, which will be bad publicity for both Disney and China.

In 2011, the construction site of the future Shanghai Disneyland.
In 2011, the construction site of the future Shanghai Disneyland.
Image: Reuters/Stringer

Not to fear. Authorities plan to move or close down (link in Chinese) more than 150 factories to clear the air.

Though Beijing gets more attention for its foul air, Shanghai has experienced days of off-the-chart pollution levels in recent years. Air pollution causes nearly one in five deaths in China—and over 4,000 per day—according to Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit that studies climate change and related issues. A Chinese documentary about the problem was banned by authorities after it started to become a viral sensation. Even two years ago observers were wondering if the upcoming park was destined to be Disney’s most polluted.

Authorities have not yet released the names of the affected companies, but many of them have been ordered to cease operations in the area (link in Chinese) by the end of next year. A government web page describes them as high-pollution, high-energy-consumption, low-efficiency operations. Firms involved in textiles, chemicals, and steel production are among them (link in Chinese).

The upcoming ”industrial relocation” might have happened even without Disneyland’s presence, according to regional analyst Liu Xinwei (link in Chinese). But it would certainly be hard to convince visitors that they were in the Magic Kingdom when all they could see was gray.

Zheping Huang contributed reporting to this story.