The worst sandstorm in the last decade hit China’s capital, Beijing, forcing the cancellation of 400 flights from the city’s two main airports, aggravating the already high environmental pollution suffered by its inhabitants. 

Likewise, urban traffic was disrupted and a large swath of northern China was also affected by the thousands of tons of sand that advanced from the Gobi Desert, often reaching as far as Japan, according to Fox News on March 15. 

“This is the most intense sandstorm weather our country has seen in 10 years, as well as it is covering the broadest area,” the National Weather Center explained.

“It looks like the end of the world,” said one Beijing resident, Flora Zou. She added, “With this kind of weather, I really don’t want to be outside.”

In fact, the elderly, children, and people suffering from respiratory difficulties were warned to stay indoors. Those who do go out should wear appropriate protection to cope with the difficult environmental situation. 

Forecasts said sand and fine dust could affect some 12 provinces and regions from Xinjiang in the far northwest to Heilongjiang in the northeast, even reaching the port city of Tianjin, located on the country’s eastern coast. 

While sandstorms are frequent in early spring, they are also intensified by deforestation and soil erosion throughout northern China. 

Moreover, China’s environmental pollution record is one of the worst, substantially surpassing that of other countries.

This was the point made by President Donald Trump at the 2020 U.N. General Assembly. 

“Those who attack America’s exceptional environmental record while ignoring China’s rampant pollution are not interested in the environment,” Trump said, on Sept. 22. 

CBC, Canada correspondent Sasa Petricic highlighted the fact that the sand that covers Beijing exceeds the maximum levels of environmental pollution that are usually classed as suffocating. 

“After a week of lung-choking industrial pollution in Beijing, China’s capital wakes up to a gritty, orange mess: a sandstorm blown in from the Mongolian desert that sends air pollution levels off the charts – well beyond the 999 maximum on scales. Not unheard of, but rare,” he wrote from the Twitter account @sasapetricic.

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