In the past week, during Beijing’s best time of the year – fall, smog rose to hazardous level again. Officials in this “City of Smog” are desperately in need of some refreshing excuses when talking about the city’s choking air. So there we have Zhao Huimin, director of the Beijing Foreign Affairs Office, who pointed fingers at Chinese cooking, one of the few things that most Chinese uniformly take pride in.
In an interview with Shanghai’s Dragon TV, Zhao told journalists that Beijing will carry out eight measures to improve air quality as part of the preparation for 2014 APEC summit, including factory shutdowns, population and vehicle controls.
“Our Chinese cooking styles also contribute a lot to PM 2.5 density. We hope Beijing citizens corporate with us and work with the government to clean the air.” Zhou continued.
The remarks, not surprisingly, triggered public ridicule. Many people asked jokingly: “Is Beijing going to ban cooking during next year’s APEC? “
Many also “kindly” gave suggestions of how to implement such a plan based on what they learnt from Beijing’s car regulations. “Why not set up a lottery system to decide who can buy cooking ware and who cannot, just like with license plates?” One netizen 吉利嗯 suggested.
Cooking rationing is another option. The inspiration comes from car rationing, an air quality control regulation introduced in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics which aimed at reducing traffic by limiting the number of cars on road based on the last digit of their licenses.
One netizen Yi昕然 suggested: “Cooking on odd-numbered days, and cold foods on even-numbered days. For APEC!” Another netizen 假装在纽约 suggested: “1. Those with odd apartment numbers are allowed to cook on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Those with even apartment numbers are allowed to cook on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. 2. Those without a Beijing hukou or who haven’t paid Beijing local taxes for 5 consecutive years are not allowed to cook. 3. Those with family members weighted over 75 kg are not allowed to cook.”
This isn’t the first time when Beijing officials blamed cooking/food for the city’s bad air. Earlier this year, Beijing issued a ban on barbecue activities in any outdoor space as part of a plan to fix air pollution. Now indoor cooking is in trouble, too. Many people couldn’t’ help but ask what’s next? “Fart pollutes the air, too. We hope citizens fart as little as possible.” One netizen joked.
With a trillion-yuan plan to clean Beijing air released last month, officials ought to come up with better ideas to avoid looking stupid.