How Rich People in China Are Surviving the Toxic Smog

Rich people in China are coping better than everyone else as toxic smog continues to plague the country.

Some are flying to more breathable coastal cities or even other countries in search of clean air. This seems to be the most reasonable choice for survival. If life goes on without the need to stay in airpocalyptic Beijing, why not?

But it’s not the only option for China’s rich. For those who need to stay with their families in affected territories, help comes in the form of expensive air purifiers and specialized face masks. Apparently, these are things the poor have no means to purchase.

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Lu, a deliveryman who works from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., six days a week, told South China Morning Post:

“I deliver those purifiers and I know their price, but I only go back home to sleep. It is not worth it to buy one.”

Earning 5,000 yuan ($730) a month, Lu is completely exposed to the smog whenever he makes deliveries.

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Arriving in Beijing three years ago, Zhang and her husband run an open-air fruit stall near their children’s school. They considered pausing their business, but such idea would mean hunger for the family. Zhang said:

“What can I do? I open my eyes in the morning and know we have to pay hundreds of yuan of rent each day. If we don’t open business, what do we eat? What air purifier? I am content enough if we can eat well.”

In contrast, a woman named Gao is willing to shell out any amount in the name of her family’s safety:

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“I used to think about spending less on such equipment as long as the protection was sufficient because I wanted to save money for other spending on the child, but now I think staying alive is more important. I don’t care how much money I spend as long as the air is clean. I don’t set a budget now, as long as it buys health for my child and my family I can accept any price.”

Unfortunately, the problem isn’t going away soon. For instance, according to Reuters, worsening pollution will cover four provinces in northern China from Monday to Thursday. Some relief occurs on Friday, but the air suffers again by Saturday, the day of the Lunar New Year. Citizens are expected to make local trips, but we’re not entirely sure whether the poor can still afford to celebrate.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection recently announced that air quality in northern China remains “especially severe” and no better than the national average.

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