Air pollution in Beijing, Jan. 19. (Photo/Xinhua)
South Korea and Japan are both claiming that China's pollution problem is affecting their own country and citizens, reports the Global Times, a tabloid under the auspices of the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily.
China's notorious pollution problem has hit international headlines in the last couple of weeks as Beijing and several other parts of the country became shrouded in a hazardous cloud of pollutants, with air quality indices literally going off the charts.
On Jan. 16, South Korea's National Institute of Environmental Research said that air quality tests conducted at the southern island province of Jeju between Jan. 12 and 15 indicated that there was now 107 micrograms of pollutants per cubic meter of air in the area, exceeding the national standard of 100 micrograms per cubic meter.
A similar test last year revealed almost no pollutants in the air in Jeju, suggesting that the worsening air quality may be attributable to China, the institute said.
Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper, on the other hand, reported on Jan. 16 that two Japanese schools in Shanghai with a total of more than 3,000 students were forced to stop outdoor activities due to health concerns.
A Chinese environmental expert told the Global Times that the question of whether or not China's pollution problem can affect South Korea is not so simple to answer, adding that it requires a long-term study into wind direction and the concentration of pollutants in the two countries. China is becoming more transparent about its pollution problem, the expert said, adding that making its monitoring reports public is already a huge step forward.