When a ranking Chinese government official slammed the U.S. embassy and consulates in China earlier this month for measuring local air pollution data, calling it “violating diplomatic conventions,” Chinese web users snapped back. “Can’t you see the bad pollution yourself?” asked one typical comment.
China’s censors have tremendous power in print, online, and even in public spaces such as Tiananmen Square. But when it comes to air pollution, even the Chinese government can’t obscure the facts. People see and breathe it every day.