Chinese media cover nation’s foul air

BEIJING — The Chinese state media Monday published detailed reports on what it described as the sickening and dangerous air pollution in Beijing and other parts of northern China.

The extensive coverage indicated that popular anger over air quality had reached a level at which Communist Party propaganda officials felt that they had to allow the officially sanctioned press to address the concerns of citizens.

The across-the-board coverage of Beijing’s brown, soupy air, which has been consistently rated ‘‘hazardous’’ or even worse by foreign and local monitors since last week, was the most open in recent memory.


Since 2008, when Beijing made efforts to clean up the city before the Summer Olympics, the air has appeared to degrade in the view of many residents, although the official media have often avoided addressing the problem.

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The wide coverage Monday appears to be in part a reaction to the conversation that has been unfolding on Chinese microblogs, where residents of northern China have been discussing the pollution nonstop in recent days.

The problem is so serious that hospitals reported Monday a surge in patient admissions for respiratory problems, and Beijing officials ordered government cars off the road to try to curb the pollution, which some people say has been exacerbated by a weather phenomenon, called an inversion, that traps dirty particles.

‘‘I’ve never seen such broad Chinese media coverage of air pollution,’’ said Jeremy Goldkorn, a business consultant in Beijing who tracks the Chinese media.

New York Times