It’s hazy today. It’s a pleasant Autumn day, not too hot, not too cold. If you look straight up, you can see blue-ish skies but if you look horizontal things look hazy. There is an unmistakable rendering of particulate matter in the air that obscures vision and blocks out any view completely beyond a few kilometers. I know there are mountains on three sides of this great city, but none are within view this afternoon.
This isn’t wretched day by Beijing standards. I don’t know what the PM2.5 count, the Air Quality Index (AQI) is today . . . (ahh, but I do, and it’s 155, which is according to the U.S. Embassy web site that independently monitors AQI, it's “unhealthy.”) but it’s not as bad as it certainly can get. It’s not the wretched, winter thickness descends sometimes and blocks site completely beyond ten meters in front of you. So, on the balance, there is nothing aberrant to complain about. Except for the fact that tomorrow is supposed to be perfect. And the forecast, is actually suggesting the air is going to be worse.
The day George W. Bush was inaugurated after the results of a contested election, it poured rain. Fitting, in some people’s eyes, it was however, not widely looked at as a portent of nature. It was a rainy day when Trump was inaugurated and though it was somber, for sure, no one was expecting that Donald would necessarily be able to control the weather. China, however is different.
The CCP has ordered up flawless day for past events and miraculously, secured them. I can’t remember if it was last years’ National Day or the one before that, but they often tend to get the day they want, after shutting down factories and seeding the clouds. Tomorrow’s a big one. Tomorrow should be flawless. Somewhere in Beijing there is a person with the supremely stressful mandate of delivering a flawless day tomorrow. God help that person. A day like this or worse would, to traditional, superstitious Chinese, to the eight hundred million Chinese who have yet to become middle class Chinese, be seen as a portent of nature. Once you manage to control nature successfully a first time, and reap benefits from it, the expectation is that you can control nature every time. Some large number of people, one assumes, still believe in the Mandate of Heaven.
One suspects that there will be many, many young people, down in the Hong Kong S.A.R. tonight, and tomorrow who will also be, beyond control. We checked today and domestic media, China Daily, People’s Daily, Baidu search, none of them were reporting anything of the extraordinary clashes in that took place in Hong Kong yesterday. It’s risky to insist upon perfection. Some things are always beyond one’s control.