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The Air Was Noticeably Clearer in China During This Week’s Military Parade…

posted: 09/04/15
by: Danny Clemens

In the midst of the pomp and circumstance surrounding China's massive military parade earlier this week, one important player went largely unnoticed: the environment.

Photos from the day of the parade reveal a crystal blue sky over Beijing, a fleeting phenomenon that sent local residents scrambling to document the "parade blue" skies on social media:

Blue skies over Beijing on September 3
ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

For comparison's sake, this photo shows thick air pollution lingering over a Beijing highway just two months ago:

Beijing pollution in June 2015
STR/AFP/Getty Images

In the weeks leading up to the parade, Chinese officials imposed strict regulations that were intended to temporarily curb air pollution: local factories were shut down and cars were taken from city streets.

The pollution respite didn't last very long, though. CNN points out that Beijing was back to its familiar self just a day after the celebration. After anti-pollution rules were relaxed, the air quality index quickly skyrocketed:

This isn't the first time that Beijing has temporarily tackled air pollution. Leading up to the 2008 Summer Olympics, Chinese officials imposed similarly extremely strict limits on industrial activity in Beijing and surrounding areas. Facing heavy international pressure and resistance from athletes, officials successfully brought air pollution levels down to acceptable levels -- although those rules were quickly relaxed when the Olympics ended.

A recent study revealed that the nation's smoggy air is responsible for more than a million deaths each year.

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