No! It does get the most coverage and, yes, the polluted is bad on many days but Beijing did not make the list of the top ten polluted cities in the world and it is not even the most polluted city in China. According to the World Health Organization none of the cities in China made the top ten list of polluted cities in the world. Most of the top ten are in the India and Iran with a couple of surprises such as Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and Gaborone, Botswana.
Many cities worldwide experience pollution that exceeds the limits that are considered safe. During five days in 2014, the air pollution in Paris, France exceeded safe levels. Driving restrictions and other special measures were instituted in Paris and also in the French cities of Reims, Rouen, and Caen.
Smog, the blending of the words smoke and fog, is exacerbated when an inversion traps the pollutants close to the ground. In Beijing the mornings tend to be smoggier than late afternoon when the fog lifts. Part of the reason coverage of Beijing’s pollution is so extensive is due, in part, to a monitor outside the US Embassy in Beijing that gives hourly readings and is easily accessible online. Beijing’s pollution is a result of the country’s rapid industrialization. American and European cities faced similar problems in their early phases of industrialization and have had to work to combat the problem.
According to China Daily, Beijing and the rest of China are working to solve their pollution problems. Beijing has alternate day driving and restrictions dealing with car emissions. They are curbing the use of coal – a major contributor to pollution imposing fines on factories who fail to install emission technology, and banning highly polluting fuels in certain areas. Chinese government recently announced they will be taking five million old cars that don’t meet their high emission standards off the road including 300,000 in Beijing alone. The pollution situation in Beijing and other Chinese cities will improve given time. Beijing is an exciting city and pollution should not be the deciding factor when considering a visit.