On September 3, everything went according to plan for the military parade, including the sapphire blue sky over Beijing.
As with the 2008 Summer Olympics and last year’s APEC conference, the government again demonstrated its ability to to govern the skies when it chooses to. Following government directives to shut down anything that contributes to the normally smoggy air enshrouding Beijing, including cars, factories and power plants, the city looked anything but polluted when the parade marched on.
But the parade is over now and, as CNN noted, the clean air is gone as well. Photographs of the city’s skyline, taken from CNN’s Beijing bureau office, illustrate perfectly the difference between pre-and post-parade Beijing. The top photo was taken a day prior to the parade, while the bottom photo was taken a day after.
Environmental monitoring stations around Beijing reported an average AQI (Air Quality Index) reading 17 on the day of the parade, and an average 160 on September 4, the day after the parade. Amazed at the change in air quality, netizens called the skies “parade blue”, drawing comparisons to last year’s “APEC blue”.
Perhaps surprisingly, “parade blue” might prove to be more resilient than expected. Sunday marked the first work day, and the first day without vehicle restrictions, after the holiday, and Beijing’s sky had an average AQI under 50 all day long. We’ll have to wait and see how long it lasts.