Beijing issued a red alert this week for smog, triggering restrictions on traffic, school closures and factory suspensions. City residents reacted with a mix of alarm and nonchalance:
"This is modern life for Beijing people. We wanted to develop, and now we pay the price," Beijing office worker Cao Yong said during a break from work.
"You have to do whatever you can to protect yourself," Beijing resident Li Huiwen said while stopping at a market. "Even when wearing the mask, I feel uncomfortable and don't have any energy."
A man who gave only his surname, Du, said the haze was good for taking photographs of old buildings and that he was taking advantage of a lack of crowds near Beijing's ancient Forbidden City. "I like this kind of haziness. It gives a blurry feeling and makes you feel like you're in a dream."
"You live in Beijing, you just get used to it. Every winter is like this," said a store clerk who gave only her surname, Sun, and who said the restrictions were a nuisance. "But now that they're canceling school, it becomes really inconvenient. If you don't get time off from work, who watches the kid?"
"I would keep myself indoors, and wear a mask all the time if I'm outside on smoggy days. And air purifiers at home are a must," Beijing resident Sun Yuanyuan said.
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