Beijing is “barely suitable” for living in because of the highly polluted air breathed in by its residents, according to an annual report on worldwide cities published yesterday.
Air in the Chinese capital was highly polluted at least once a week on average in 2013, according to the 2014 Blue Paper for World Cities compiled by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the Beijing-based Social Sciences Academic Press.
Of 40 cities monitored, Beijing ranks last but one in an assessment of environmental conditions.
Stockholm tops the list as the best place to live while Moscow is in bottom place because of its long and chilly winters.
Shanghai and Hong Kong also fare badly, coming 36th and 34th respectively.
However, Shanghai and Beijing get better marks for their comprehensive competitiveness.
Beijing’s tolerance of different cultures can rival Paris and London, the report says, and its Gini coefficient, a measure of the income gap between rich and poor, is also low. That helped push the capital into 31st place overall, despite its poor environment, high crime rate and insufficient public health care, the report said.
Shanghai ranks 21st overall but no details of its other good points were given. Tokyo tops the ranking, followed by London, Paris and New York.
The Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau said the city suffered air pollution for 189 days last year, with PM2.5 density around 89.5 micrograms per cubic meter on average, compared to the nation’s limit of 75.
In Shanghai, PM2.5 density was recorded at 600 micrograms per cubic meter on December 6. The severe pollution forced schools to close, caused flight delays and contributed to the rising number of people emigrating to other countries over health concerns.
The nation has imposed air clean targets on 11 provincial regions this year, including an annual 25 percent decrease, the highest, for Beijing.
Shanghai will have to cut the PM2.5 figure by 20 percent.