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  • This is China covered in pollution last year.

  • But this year the skies are clear,

  • that's because the coronavirus epidemic

  • had brought much of the country to a standstill

  • for several weeks causing a huge drop in pollutants

  • like nitrogen dioxide,

  • a harmful gas that's emitted when burning fossil fuel.

  • Compared to previous years it's below typical levels.

  • - If you close down factories or reducing the amount

  • of cars on the road you're going

  • to reduce the pollution levels.

  • And from that we can deduce that the economic activity

  • has been decreased.

  • In early February Chinese president,

  • Xi Jinping publicly declared a people's war

  • against the virus,

  • that extreme measures like shutdowns have prevented people

  • from returning to work where necessary.

  • But he also cautioned that those efforts

  • should not jeopardize economic development.

  • Now a dramatic change in pollution over the country suggests

  • that striking that balance could be difficult.

  • In the past few decades China has grown

  • to become the world's largest coal consumer.

  • Its large manufacturing-based economy burns 95&00:01:10,310 --> 00:01:11,750 of the country's coal,

  • making it the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses.

  • Usually during the Lunar New Year most industries wind down

  • for a week and power plants burn a lot less coal.

  • Coal consumption usually rebounds after the week-long break

  • which means pollution levels pick up too.

  • - Because the levels of nitrogen dioxide

  • in China are so high we can easily detect that from space.

  • This is what Wuhan,

  • the epicenter of the coronavirus usually looks like

  • after the holiday.

  • The city is a key producer of automobiles,

  • electronics and heavy machinery.

  • But this year the demand

  • for coal hasn't immediately rebounded since many workers

  • have been stranded at home in locked down cities,

  • and nitrogen dioxide levels have dipped.

  • It's not just Wuhan,

  • it's the same when you look

  • at other industrial powerhouses in China.

  • This is what Shandong and Hebei usually look like

  • after the holiday.

  • They're know for churning out everything

  • from textiles and metals to petrochemicals.

  • But this year they also weren't spared

  • from the impact of the epidemic.

  • While skies were clear in many parts of China,

  • some cities like Beijing are still shrouded in smog.

  • The city has recorded high levels of air pollutants.

  • These fine particles are created

  • during the chemical reaction of gasses generated

  • from burning fuel.

  • Heating systems in Beijing's geography

  • can affect this reading.

  • But there's one huge source of pollution

  • that can't be missed,

  • major steel makers around the capital don't stop production

  • during the holiday because going offline is costlier

  • than running all year round.

  • So during the city shutdown some factories continue

  • to produce steel.

  • Li Hongmei is an analyst

  • who tracks the Chinese metal industry.

  • - Because of the outbreak all the normal pattern

  • has been broken so the construction sites are still

  • in the process of resuming work,

  • that's why their steel consumption slow down and delayed.

  • - [Narrator] Steel inventories are now at record high levels

  • because buyers in the construction industry

  • are demanding less right now.

  • Home sales were already cooling before the virus,

  • now they're below last year levels.

  • - Whenever you're not so sure about your national economy

  • you're not so sure about your job security,

  • about your income.

  • People definitely will be reducing expenditure

  • in a investment.

  • - [Narrator] In recent days Xi has been touting efforts

  • to meet economic targets while containing the virus,

  • like heavy stimulus to support banks and tax cuts

  • for small businesses.

  • But analysts say it's not clear whether these measures

  • can help make up for lost ground.

  • Some factories are slowly resuming production.

  • - So pollution levels that we're observing from space

  • are beginning to increase which may indicate

  • that economic activity could be resuming.

  • - [Narrator] Beijing recently put out the first full month

  • of economic data after the virus hit China.

  • The index tracks business sentiment among manufacturing

  • and service sectors and it falls

  • below the lowest level recorded

  • during the global financial crisis.

  • An increase in the number of infections overseas

  • could also put China's economy at greater risk,

  • complicating efforts to meet Xi's economic goals

  • for this year.

  • For now, one of the most visible indicators

  • to see how it all plays out might be just

  • to look up at the skies.

  • (relaxing music)

This is China covered in pollution last year.

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B1 中級 新型コロナウイルス 新型肺炎 COVID-19

中国の汚染が語るコロナウイルスと経済について|WSJ (What China's Pollution Says About Coronavirus and the Economy | WSJ)

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    Seraya に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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