北京的空气质量到底有多糟糕？在之前一期《财富》杂志（Fortune）上，杂志编辑苏安迪发表了一篇关于中国空气污染问题的卷首文章——《中国眼前的危机》（A China crisis that's here）。这篇文章甚至认为，中国污浊的空气已经成为新一任国家领导人习近平近期急需解决的一次政治危机。【文章还讽刺了中国官方宣传机构通过批评苹果（Apple）和星巴克（Starbucks）等美国著名公司来转移民众注意力的做法。】
I visited China for the first time in nearly 20 years this past summer. Everyone talks about how much has changed, and it's true. There were mule-drawn carriages in the streets of central Beijing the last time I was there. Today, not so much.
What hasn't changed is the air pollution. In fact, it has gotten worse.
How much worse? Fortune Magazine Editor Andy Serwer devoted his front-of-the-book essayto the Chinese air-pollution problem in the new issue of the magazine. His article, "A China crisis that's here," goes so far as to argue that the dirty air over China is a near-term political crisis for the country's new president Xi Jinping. (He includes some controversial digs at a Chinese government propaganda machine that's taking after U.S. icons like Apple and Starbucks in order to distract its own people.)
I agree that Xi faces a crisis over this. Chinese people are willing to put up with a lot, but they are hopping mad about the quality-of-life issue that is literally in their face every day. In fact, it's the one topic about which I asked everybody I met in June, when I traveled there for the Fortune Global Forum. How can the Chinese fix the problem and when will they? I asked.
As you might have guessed, there isn't a simple answer. Indeed, tackling the question provokes a conundrum. The only certain way to fix the pollution quickly is to slow down the industrial economy, which would cause massive unemployment, which would cause civil unrest -- exactly the problem Serwer flags regarding the pollution.
Not everyone sees it that way. "You don't need to fix it everywhere," says Ian Bremmer, who runs the global political-risk consulting firm Eurasia Group from New York. "What they really need to do, at least in the near term, is to address the problem in the most important cities, where people are coming in from out of the country and where there is a lot of media." To Bremmer, the air-pollution problem is a PR screw-up more than a national crisis. He argues that the quality of life is so low in much of China that what seems unacceptable to expatriates and visiting journalists simply isn't top-of-mind to the average Chinese citizen. "The comment that people wouldn't take their kids out in this pollution is overblown because they can't afford to take their kids out anyway," he says.