Reality Check: Is Beijing’s air quality better this winter? / 现实检查:北京今年冬天空气质量好吗?

People in face masks walk through a smoggy Beijing street

The claim: The Chinese government says that Beijing’s air quality improved sharply in the winter of 2017.

Reality Check verdict: The air quality this winter has been better – but whether or not this is sustainable in the long term is still unclear.

Beijing is infamous for its pollution – and normally the onset of winter sees it choked in an even thicker smog than usual, as the heating is switched on across the Chinese capital.

But at the end of 2017, the opposite seems to have happened – the government said the air quality actually improved. A recent article on the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s website even heralded “a new reality” for Beijing residents.

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