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HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

World

Deadly smog makes Chinese funnier and smarter: State TV
Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times
Beijing, December 10, 2013
First Published: 23:46 IST(10/12/2013)
Last Updated: 01:09 IST(11/12/2013)

It is always brave to make the best of worst situations some say but even for the diehard followers of the idea this could be a bit difficult to take in.

China’s national television broadcaster, the tightly state-controlled China Central Television’s (CCTV) website on Monday carried an article extolling the virtues of smog — describing five positive aspects of it in detail — even as large swathes of China was covered by noxious layers of it, forcing closure of schools and making authorities issue severe health warnings about it.

It evidently wasn’t an attempt at satire as the write-up was quickly pulled from state-ran websites but not before it was widely shared and ridiculed in chat platforms and social media.

"It unifies Chinese people," was the first point. "Complaining about smog has brought Chinese citizens together. The haze "is everywhere," the article continues, from "every big city" to "small cities, towns, and villages," the story went said TeaLeafNation, a website that tracks China’s internet, which translated it.

"It makes China more equal," was the second positive aspect of smog, it explained, adding that everyone has to breathe the same air despite the sharp inequalities that exist in the Communist country.

The third point was that smog raises awareness of citizens. "The article insists that ‘with the whole world playing up the Chinese miracle’ the pollution ‘reminds us that China’s status as ‘the world’s factory’ is not without a price,’" TeaLeafNation said.

"Chinese people are funnier when they are contending with deadly smog," the CCTV article said, listing pollution-related jokes that are shared among citizens

And, smog makes the Chinese more knowledgeable with people becoming more informed on meteorology and geography; it is especially good for students of English, it seems, as they now know the word "haze".

If the intention was to satirise the situation, it boomeranged.

"Thousands of users on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like platform, have derided the effort, with the account for Chutian Metropolis Daily, a small newspaper based in the industrial city of Wuhan, writing, "Only someone poisoned by the smog would be stupid enough to say something like this," TeaLeafNation wrote.

On the positive side, the CCTV article has what it takes to become the best joke on China’s deadly smog.


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