China’s state-run Global Times propaganda outlet shared stories on Thursday of Chinese “netizens” on regime-controlled social media mocking New York City for being engulfed in a wildfire smog plume flying in from Canada, declaring the wildfires a “losing-face” moment for America.
The Times, citing its usual Communist Party-approved list of “experts,” also demanded Washington “learn from China’s great achievements in improving air quality in the past years” in response to the event.
New York City ranked as the city with the world’s most polluted air on Wednesday and has spent much of the week under a sprawling plume of smoke, carried over by a low-pressure air system pushing the smoke out of Quebec, Canada. Quebec is experiencing a particularly active, and early, wildfire season. Its local officials documented upwards of 100 fires throughout the province this week, lamenting they only had the firefighters and other resources to address 30 fires at a time. In addition to New York, most of New England and the Mid-Atlantic, as well as much of the American Midwest, endured some of the worst air quality documented there in history this week as a result of the fires.
Quebec officials are facing growing scrutiny after the mayor of Montreal, its largest city, told reporters on Wednesday that the city had spare firefighters to offer the province, but the provincial government rejected them. Quebecois leaders, instead, imported firefighters from France.
Premier François Legault insisted on Thursday that the reason for the rejection was that Montreal’s firefighters were not specially trained to handle forest fires, rather than urban fire situations, and required extra “supervision” that Quebec’s fire prevention agency, SOPFEU, could not offer at this time.
Canada’s failure to properly control its fires, the Global Times concluded on Thursday, was an embarrassment for America.
“Pictures of New York blanketed by yellow haze have widely circulated on Chinese social media on Thursday and triggered rounds of astonishment, criticism over US’ deteriorating environment, as New York’s air quality has become the worst in the entire world,” the state newspaper declared, calling it a “losing-face” moment for the United States. The Global Times noted that users of China’s heavily censored social media outlets, which do not allow any content contradictory to the agenda of the Communist Party, flooded the sites with images of “clear-sky Chinese metropolises” this week to mock the United States. The “netizens” allegedly used their platform to advise “the US to learn from China’s great achievements in improving air quality in the past years.”
The Global Times‘ “experts,” meanwhile, “believed that due to US’ chaotic leadership and bipartisan tussle, Americans should be prepared for frequent visits of toxic air.”
The newspaper did not similarly criticize Canada under the leadership of radical leftist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or advise it to follow China’s “great achievements.” And while it cited “netizens” suggesting Washington imitate Beijing’s climate policies, it then relayed that Chinese “experts” believed it was impossible for America do to so, as it is not a totalitarian communist state.
“Chinese netizens jokingly suggested US to take China’s experience in addressing air pollution as reference, to combat its own worsening air quality,” the Times noted. “However, China’s experience is hard to copy for the US, Yang Fuqiang, a senior advisor on climate change and energy transition at the Energy Research Institute at Peking University, told the Global Times on Thursday.”
“The US usually flip-flops its environment policies when a different political party takes office, Yang said, and its bipartisan tussles disrupt the passing of environmental protection bills,” the state outlet continued.
Another Chinese “expert” suggested that to successfully cooperate with China on environmental issues, American officials must stop condemning China’s ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Turkic indigenous people in East Turkistan.
In a separate article, an editorial calling for more global “environmental governance,” the Global Times asserted that China’s “institutional advantages” – namely the violent repression of any voices dissenting from Communist Party orthodoxy – made clean air easier to achieve than in America.
In reality, China is the world’s worst carbon emitter, and the Communist Party has greatly escalated its coal consumption in recent years, disregarding its meager climate promises as part of the Paris Agreement.
Beijing has long been one of the world’s most polluted cities, though it has shown slight improvements in modern memory and continues to appear alongside several major Chinese metropolises on annual studies of the world’s most polluted cities. The Communist Party took dramatic measures before both the 2008 and 2022 Beijing Olympics to marginally reduce pollution, necessary for the safety of the athletes involved. In 2008, Beijing instituted a ban on half the nation’s 3.3 million cars from being on the road at one time, allowing each half to drive only on alternate days. In 2022, Beijing banned heavy vehicles transporting construction waste and threatened to ban fuel trucks generally. It also forced 80 percent of government vehicles off the road.
The city with the worst air quality in China is Hotan, in northern East Turkistan, a Uyghur city. It is the second most polluted city in the world as of 2023, second only to Lahore, Pakistan.
The Chinese government has responded to its environmental crisis by dramatically increasing coal consumption, increasing emissions, and promising through the Paris Agreement to continue increasing emissions through at least 2030. The Paris Agreement, touted by the administration of leftist American President Joe Biden as a critical commitment to aid the planet, actively allows China to pollute more over time.
The Chinese government has already walked back, through a report released by Peking University last year, its goal of not increasing emissions beginning in 2030. The study suggested China is five years behind its goal of “peaking” in emissions in 2030.
In 2021, Chinese lawmaker Ding Zhongli boldly proclaimed that China had a “right to emit” pollution, equating the destruction of the environment with other human rights – which China regularly violates.
“I want to ask: Are Chinese humans? That’s a fundamental question,” Ding said. “I see the right to emit as a right to development, which is a basic human right.”
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