Battle Royale of Chinese Media Over 5 Points of Smog Benefits

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | December 11, 2013 3:09 PM EST

Two of China's most influential news outlets tried to make satire pieces of the polluted haze that enveloped the country over the weekend. However, the people didn't find it funny at all. Moreover, other Chinese media didn't think second thoughts to air out their opinions on the issue.

State broadcaster CCTV on its website on Monday said the smog has five-point benefits, namely:

  • It unifies the Chinese people because they find solidarity in their complaints
  • It equalizes the Chinese people because both rich and poor people were affected by its effects
  • It enlightens the Chinese people because they get to realise the cost of rapid growth
  • It makes the Chinese people more humorous because smog-related jokes suddenly proliferate on the internet

The polluted smog also helps to educate people, CCTV added. "Our knowledge of meteorology, geography, physics, chemistry and history has progressed." 

Netizens and other fellow Chinese media outlets didn't take the matter as laughing stock though.

"Is the smog supposed to lift if we laugh about it?" the Beijing Business Today, published by the city government's official Beijing Daily, wrote. "Smog affects our breathing. We hope it does not affect our thinking."

The Global Times, a nationalist tabloid published by the Communist party's official People's Daily, added more fuel into CCTV's fire when it said that "the smog could bolster China's military defences by affecting guided missile systems."

"There's nothing funny about the health dangers of smog," the Dongguan Times, from a heavily industrial city close to the border with Hong Kong, wrote.

It was "totally inappropriate" to make fun of air pollution, main Xinhua news agency said.

As expected, Sina Weibo users likewise blasted both media outlets for their poor attempt to salvage the situation.

"The smog crisis covering large parts of China has revealed the failure of the government's development strategy of only going after GDP (growth). CCTV is shameless in trying to cover up for their masters," Wu Bihu, a professor at the elite Peking University, wrote.

Other people also openly voiced out their opinions on the matter, in blogs and other social media:

"It is a public tragedy that half of China is engulfed in smog." 

"We should not entertain ourselves by this tragedy."

"The smog weather makes CCTV much stupider. They always treat us as fools."

"The Global Times thinks that pollution will cause missiles to miss their targets ... How shameful! So that's what all this smog has really been about. People had thought it was just bad pollution," state television in the eastern province of Shandong wrote on one of its microblogs.

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