Weather & Natural Disasters

Three consequences of China’s ‘airpocalypse’

A Chinese man wears a protective face mask as he passes by the CCTV Headquarters on November 30, 2015, in Beijing, China.
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China is spluttering under sky-high pollution levels which have brought factories, roads and schools to a standstill for several days.

State news agency Xinhua reported Tuesday that 23 cities in the Middle Kingdom have activated red alerts, the most severe weather warning. Xinhua also cited Beijing Capital International Airport's official Weibo account, which said that as of 2pm Tuesday, 273 flights had been cancelled.

Restrictions due to poor air quality have affected many aspects of life in China, including the delaying of online shopping deliveries, restaurants being prevented from cooking food should they not be fitted with fume processing equipment, and an increase in outbound passenger volumes from affected areas. Here are three more ways the Chinese smog has made headlines in recent days.

Students sit exams outside in the smog

China's works to stop the 'Airpocalypse'

Nearly 500 hundred students at a school in China sat exams outside in the smog, the South China Morning Post reported Wednesday, citing Dahe News, an outlet local to the area.

The school in Linzhou, located in central China's Henan province, held exams outdoors on Monday after the school was closed by the authorities due to high smog levels.

Photographs circulating online show rows of pupils wearing masks while sitting their exams, with those several meters away from the camera obscured due to poor visibility.

The school's principle has been quoted as saying that he intended for the students to finish their exams, considering that the assessments had been organized in advance. The Telegraph, citing China Youth News, reported Wednesday that the principal has been suspended from duty.

Smog in Beijing, China.
VCG | Getty Images

Lawyers take action against the government

Chinese lawyers have filed a lawsuit against the Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin local governments for failing to prevent the smog by implementing their own environmental laws, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

A letter by the lawyers was posted on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, the Financial Times said – though these posts have since been deleted.

"There are processes in China for taking the authorities to court over administrative failures," Roderic Wye, an associate fellow of the Asia program at Chatham House told CNBC via telephone. But, he added that it would be "difficult for the lawyers to reach a satisfactory conclusion."

Major port suspends operations

The largest port in northern China, Tianjin, has "stopped handling coal, iron ore and other non-liquid products," Reuters reported Wednesday.

Tianjin is considered the main maritime gateway to Beijing. But, some operations have been suspended due to the smog, which has also meant that Chinese factories producing industrial materials have also curbed production.

Reuters also said that "Chinese steel and iron ore futures dropped for a sixth consecutive session," attributing this to the heavy smog.

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