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David Wertime

Spotted on China’s Web: Gallows Humor as Pollution Chokes Beijing

“Sorry, the headlines have been obscured by a giant haze; please click your mouse to clear it up.” If only cleaning up Beijing were as easy as following the above circled instructions on Sohu, a Chinese Internet portal.

In response to unprecedentedly filthy air in the Chinese capital, Sohu’s humorous innovation has Chinese Web users talking. But lawyer Xu Xin (@徐昕) wins the title for most viral pollution-related post on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter. Mr. Xu got over 47,000 re-posts when he shared a picture showing nothing beyond a gray scrim, with the words: “The greatest distance on earth is…standing in [Beijing's] Tiananmen Square, and not being able to see [the portrait of] Chairman Mao.”

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David Wertime

David is the co-founder and co-editor of Tea Leaf Nation. He first encountered China as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2001 and has lived and worked in Fuling, Chongqing, Beijing, and Hong Kong. He is a ChinaFile fellow at the Asia Society and an associate fellow at the Truman National Security Project.