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Here’s what China looks like under “red alert” smog

Reuters/Damir Sagolj
At a flag raising ceremony, Tiananmen Square, Dec. 9.
  • Quartz
By Quartz

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

China’s pollution problem is so bad this week that the world is running out of descriptors: if the air was apocalyptic and dystopian earlier, it is an absolute horror movie now.

The situation is so bad that the government issued an unprecedented “red alert” earlier this week in Beijing and  state-backed newspapers are reporting on the situation regularly, aggressively and even outside China.

People’s Daily newspaper tweeted this short, terrifying video of China’s “dancing aunties,” women who do team dance to music in public parks, nearly enveloped by the smog:

(Yes, it does look a little like a scene from Michael Jackson’s Thriller or, as People’s Daily points out, Silent Hill, a 2006 movie about an haunted town where it rains ash.)

In northern China’s Tianjin Harbor, the main port to Beijing, it was hard to see beyond the piers on Dec. 9:

Tianjin Harbor

While in Taigu county in Shanxi province west of Beijing, the pollution was so thick that middle school’s athletic field was barely visible from a few stories above:

Taigu Middle School

Here’s the field on a clearer day.

Buildings in Xinzhou, also in Shanxi, were almost invisible from across the street:

Sina Weibo/@ 今天你笑了吗d
In Xinzhou, Shanxi province.

While in Beijing itself, a flag-raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square was so occluded the flag was practically invisible:

Reuters/Damir Sagolj


Reporting by May Shi.

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