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>> A blanket of smog is covering Beijing. Just business as usual, especially as cold boilers fire up ahead of winter. Except, this wasn't supposed to happen. The country's top communist leaders are gathered in Beijing for major congress that only happens every five years. The party has waged the massive Blue Sky campaign in order to create the perfect public display.
But clearly, something's gone wrong. I'm in Beijing. Officials met back in September to figure out how to clean up the skies ahead of the congress. They draw up a plan to cut pollution from factories and cars. Some local restaurants even told Reuters that they were ordered to shut down their barbecues.
But even after all those measures, the pollution reading this morning from the American Embassy's Air Monitoring was over 170, officially in the unhealthy range. Vast different from China's own reading which was only around 120 on Friday morning. So many question pages official data. But there is no question that top leaders are serious about tackling toxic air.
Earlier this year they hired thousands of experts to track and enforce strict new regulations. That commitment was on display at the opening of the Congress, as President Xi Jinping talked about a clean energy revolution and promised not to back down in the war on pollution. But in the world's second largest economy where coal is still king, cleaning up the air is no walk in the park, especially when the weather is not cooperating.
Experts say low winds and high humidity have trapped pollution in the capital cheating the Communist Party out of its picture postcard political meeting and exposing the limits of its power.