字幕表 動画を再生する 英語字幕をプリント The biggest sandstorm in a decade hits Beijing What's causing the pollution? And is the CCP's solution working? Or is it making things worse? Welcome to China Uncensored. I'm Chris Chappell. After a long, cold winter, spring is finally just around the corner. Birds are chirping. Flowers are blooming. And the air is full of...sand. Beijing on Monday was covered with thick brown dust. China's meteorological agency called it the biggest sandstorm in a decade. The sky literally turned orange as the sandstorm and pollution sent air quality readings off the scale. How far off the scale? Some of you longtime viewers of China Uncensored may remember me talking about the time the US Embassy in China called the air quality crazy bad. That happened back in 2010. Crazy bad was when the PM 2.5 air quality index hit more than 500. This past Monday, it hit 700. And the PM 10 index, which measures slightly bigger air pollution particles, was over 9000. Life imitates art. And 9,000 is more than 180 times the healthy amount. So if more than 500 is Crazy Bad, more than 9,000 is Time to Get Out of China bad. Yeah, definitely time to get out of China. "It looks like the end of the world. Feels like it's impossible to go outside." But you know what, humans are resilient. Even during the end of the world, people were walking around, constantly looking at their phones. That must be a really important email. Maybe everyone is on their phones because they're checking the air quality index. But you know what? At least everyone has masks now, thanks to the coronavirus. Although you have to wonder whether a surgical mask is really enough to keep you from inhaling all that dust. This guy has the right idea. Until he's arrested for looking like a Hong Kong protester. But as some people braved the sandstorm outside, Chinese netizens responded to the post-apocalyptic environment the only way they could: they memed it. Like I said, humans are resilient. Although the photos I just showed you were all from Beijing, the sandstorm actually stretched across China. It whipped across 12 different provinces, from Beijing all the way to Gansu and Xinjiang. But of course it makes the international news because it affects Beijing, where all the foreign correspondents are. Plus, if we were talking about a sandstorm that hit Gansu, Americans would be like, what's a Gansu? Oh wait, is that the knife? Meanwhile, in Xinjiang, the sandstorm was actually a good thing, because the persecuted Uyghurs could use it to hide from all of the surveillance cameras. Years ago, there were frequent sandstorms in Beijing, as well as just terrible air pollution in general. Smog and sandstorms would be especially bad around this time of year. After tons of bad press, the Chinese Communist Party did take action to improve air quality, like by banning coal usage. And it did improve the air quality in general in Beijing. But that may be in jeopardy again. Because the Chinese Communist Party is once again expanding their coal plant capacity to boost the economy. Which means more air pollution. But don't worry! Under the Paris Climate Agreement, China has until 2030 to reach peak carbon emissions. That's plenty of time to build more coal plants. But my favorite Chinese state-run media, the Global Times, would like everyone to know that there are blue skies again in Beijing. And also that the sandstorm originated in Mongolia. And that it's definitely not related to the failure of one of the Communist Party's biggest environmental projects. Which I'll tell you about after the break. Welcome back. Northern China has seen the worst sandstorm in a decade. And the Chinese Communist Party would like you know, it has absolutely nothing to do with the failure of China's Three-North Shelterbelt Forest Program. What is the Three-North Shelterbelt Forest Program? It's also known as the Great Green Wall or sometimes the Green Great Wall. They really should get their names straight. Anyway, it's a massive plan started in 1978 to plant millions of trees to stop the northern deserts from spreading. Sure, it sounds cool. But it's just like the Chinese Communist Party's other massive environmental engineering projects, like the South-North Water Transfer Project, or the Three Gorges Dam. The plan is to conquer nature, whether that's a good idea or not. The most recent phase of the Great Green Wall, started in the mid-2000s, called for “planting more than 9 million acres of forest at a cost of up to $8 billion.” But it turns out there's a problem. It's hard to plant trees in areas that have been desert for thousands of years. And it's probably also a bad idea. One prominent ecologist has talked about how the Great Green Wall has “accelerated ecological degeneration by putting pressure on precious water resources in arid and semi-arid regions.” In one arid part of Gansu province, “Of the 53,000 hectares of trees planted in the last few decades, a quarter has died and the rest are dwarf trees, lacking any capacity to protect the soil.” Meanwhile, the trees sucked up what little water was in the soil. That caused the groundwater level to drop by as much as 131 feet. So this attempt to conquer nature by planting trees has actually caused the region to become even more of a desert than it was before. Another problem is that authorities have planted mostly the same tree species, which means that disease can easily wipe them out. “The vulnerability to disease, compounded with its rapid exhaustion of soil and water resources, makes single-species forests 'green deserts.'” So this Great Green Wall is costing billions of dollars, it's not really working, and in some areas it's actually making the problem worse. Environmentalism with Chinese characteristics. Ecologists have proposed just restoring the natural grasslands instead, which would be much easier and better for the environment. Well that's not going to happen. Because this massive political campaign is about planting trees, not stupid grass. Local officials need to be able to claim they've planted millions of trees, so they can get promoted. Duh. And according to Chinese state-run media, the Green Great Wall is definitely keeping the sand at bay. Except when it's not. And now it's time for me to answer a question from a loyal viewer who supports China Uncensored on the crowdfunding website Patreon. Ringleader asks, Chris, we know that most of the China/Russia deals are a marriage of convenience. How long do you think it will take till they decide to turn on one another? Why Ringleader, are you suggesting that these bestest buddies might turn on each other when their relationship is no longer useful? Do gold-plated friendship medals mean nothing anymore? What about pancakes? They bonded over pancakes! I mean, Xi Jinping even got special Russian ice cream from “best and bosom friend” Putin for his birthday. I never want to see the words Putin, Xi, and bosom in the same sentence again. Anyway, Ringleader, you're right these BFFs could drop each other at any time. But they won't in the foreseeable future. That's because there's one thing that unites these two, more than friendship medals, or ice cream, or even pancakes: Their common enemy, the United States. And as long as they need each other to oppose the US in the United Nations, or elsewhere around the world, this friendship is rock solid. Thanks for your question, Ringleader. If you'd like me to answer your question on an episode, Go to Patreon.com/ChinaUncensored to see how you can contribute a dollar or more per episode to help us keep this show going. Once again, I'm Chris Chappell. Thanks for watching China Uncensored.