Due to China’s rapid industrialisation, severe dependency on coal, promotion of car ownership, and complete disregard for environmental laws, China suffers from relentless pollution problems. January 2013 showed record levels of pollution in Beijing, admitting an extra 30% more respiratory admissions to hospitals, and an increase in purchase of 40% of dust proof masks. Cars are one of the fundamental reasons for these issues. In 2012, 13 million cars were sold in China, and with the middle class expanding in China, cars have become the norm for these households. The government promotes the purchase of vehicles to keep the economy going, and in turn, a vicious circle has appeared, with residents unwilling to walk in the smog, causing them to drive when they previously would have walked. The Chinese government needs to learn from those in New York and London, and promote public transport, or Borris bikes, rather than driving miniscule distances.
Schools have often been ordered to cancel outdoor activities to reduce youth exposure to the pollution. In 2012, an estimated 8000 residents died prematurely from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xian due to the high levels of air pollution. However, these figures, and the recent record breaking pollution levels in Beijing has finally reached the Government, and there is potential for action to be taken.