Chinese president jokes about 'APEC blue' skies
Xi Jinping raises laugh about Beijing's usually polluted air

The temporary clear air above the Chinese capital, usually shrouded in an acrid smog, for the Asia-Pacific Ecomonic Cooperation summit has spawned a host of gags about the ‘APEC blue’ skies and Monday even President Xi Jinping got in on the joke.

Hosting a dinner for world leaders, Xi told dignitaries: "Some people call the clear Beijing sky these days the 'APEC blue.' It is beautiful but temporary and it will be gone soon after the APEC meeting."

It was a candid statement from the leader of a country where mocking official attempts to present a different face to the world are unwise.

Beijing is subject to frequent air pollution that exceeds safety limits and is a growing embarassment to the government.

For the duration of the summit, which ends on Tuesday, strict limits on car use have been put in place and factories closed to improve the atmosphere, resulting in ‘APEC blue’ skies.

Levels of PM2.5 particulates, the smallest and most dangerous, fell to four microgrammes per cubic meter on Thursday. The maximum recommended by the World Health Organization is 25 and last month saw levels reach more than 400 microgrammes.

Xi said the first thing he did every morning was check the air quality. He added: "For the last two days, the air pollution has dispersed. I hope I am not too early in saying that. We hope the air will also be clear tomorrow."

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Last Modified: 2014-11-10 20:06:15
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