Citizen perception of APEC blue and air pollution management

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalNot applicablepeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number116853
Journal / PublicationAtmospheric Environment
Early online date20 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


China has increasingly addressed air pollution problems in its major cities, but they are severe and difficult to solve. The high level of international participation in the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing led to a desire for good air quality. Improved air quality required stringent emission controls in the first half of November. The resultant blue skies at this time attracted widespread comment and was thought to be responsible for the growing use of the term APEC Blue. The China Daily claimed APEC Blue was the top Beijing environmental key word for 2014, an expression it saw coined to describe these clear skies. However, APEC Blue may have other meanings, and convey more a sense of something wonderful, yet fleeting; the phrase often describes the temporary nature of improvements and was used more frequently during the low pollution days of APEC. There are also comments that the controls impose a heavy burden on citizens and even hint at a sense of deception. We explore the use of the term APEC Blue on social media and in publications and argue that it reflects a growing concern about regulation of air pollution in Beijing, particularly suggesting that the pubic doubts the appropriateness of short-term solutions to China's air pollution problems. Social media reveal a growing environmental sophistication in the Chinese public and the need for regulatory authorities to respond to that voice.

Research Area(s)

  • Beijing, Parade blue, Regulation of pollution, Short-term fix, Victory day, Social media