The 2014 APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) is a big deal for Beijing, since it is the first international economic organization that China takes part in. To make sure that CEOs and leaders of the region have a nice stay in Beijing, a series of new approaches are put in place.
The most significant objective is to recreate the blue sky that Beijing has long lost. In order to get rid of the embarrassing smog, factories in Beijing and nearby cities are ordered to suspend production during the conference; all construction sites in Beijing stop working. Farmers and residents living in 50km away Huairou District have to stop cooking with woods and make do with natural gas for a while. During Nov 3-12, cargo trucks, three-wheel truck, tractors, motorcycles, and buses that don’t meet the emission standard are forbidden to enter Beijing’s 6th Ring Road or further within. Car drivers have to observe the odd-even license plate rule that was invented in 2007 for Beijing Olympic Games with the same purpose, i.e. during these 10 days they can drive on the road only if the last number of their license plates match the parity of the date. An interesting result is that Beijingers won’t be able to drink fresh milk first thing in the morning as milk delivery trucks are not allowed to run on the roads until after APEC conference.
Beijing is also trying to clear people out of the city. Companies in Beijing have 6 days APEC holidays to their employees to let them go travelling, but not in Beijing, since many tourist spots in Beijing such as the Bird Nest, the Water Cube, the Olympic Forest Park are either completely closed during APEC or open only on selective days. Worry not, the Beijing Railway Bureau has increased several lines destined to Shanghai, Hefei, Zaozhuang and Hangzhou City. Think twice if you want to travel by plane though, as it is required to check-in 5 hours ahead. Besides the push, there is also pulling efforts made by nearby cities to get people out of Beijing. Many tourist areas out of Beijing will give half price or even free tickets for tourists from Beijing; hotels and inns are also offering discounts.
Beijing not only encourages people to get out of the city, but also makes some odd rules to minimize traffic and trouble inside the city. For example, marriage registration services and passport application office are closed during APEC; senior economist exam will be postponed until after the conference.
(Beijing on Oct 24, 2014)
(Beijing in early November 2014)
The effect is immediate and astonishing, Beijing has been seeing miraculous blue sky and clear air in November. But everybody knows by heart that this is just temporary and there is still a long way to go to really hold on to such luxuriously clean air. As a matter of fact, netizens have corned this phenomena as "APEC Blue", and use it to refer to something that are beautiful but doom to be short-lived. For instance, "he is not that into you, it is just APEC blue."