Yesterday, the world witnessed a massive spectacle as China commemorated the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. More Roman triumph than solemn celebration, organizers left no detail unaccounted for. In the weeks leading up to Beijing’s parade, troops rehearsed their goose steps around Tiananmen Square, military aircraft flew in formation over the Forbidden City, and monkeys were even recruited to prevent birds from nesting along the parade route.
One pesky thing seemed out of reach in this swabbing of the proverbial deck before the city’s grand televised appearance to the world. This same irksome issue came up right before the 2008 Olympics and 2014 APEC Summit as well. But not to fear! Some tried and tested measures were once again unveiled in the lead up to the events to clean Beijing’s skies. The capital’s residents were treated to over two weeks of near pollution-free days, even earning the moniker “Parade Blue.” How’d they do it? Let’s take a look at the tape.
On average, the skies over Beijing between August 20 – when measures began – to the end of the parade yesterday registered a 60 on the U.S. Embassy air quality index. This is a healthy reading, quite dissimilar to the 97 AQI reading during the same period in 2014.
Unfortunately, Parade Blue has been just as fleeting as APEC Blue before it. Major news outlets began to report changes in Beijing’s air quality the second the last soldier’s boot hit the ground yesterday. Netizens also started to post photos online showing before and after shots of the capital. Just 24 hours after the end of the parade, some parts of the city hit unhealthy readings of 180. Let’s just hope Beijing’s residents don’t have to wait until “Olympic Blue” in 2022 to see clear skies again.