Government-sponsored experts in China have discredited a widely covered international study linking air pollution from coal burning in northern China to reduced life expectancy of local residents in an attempt to ease public concern.
Many state-run media outlets have published seemingly contradictory comments by so-called experts.
Jinghua Daily, a state-run newspaper, quoted a doctor from a government institution as saying, “Air pollution from coal burning and smog inevitably lead to an increase in cardiovascular diseases and correspondingly cause higher mortality. But there are many causes of cardiovascular diseases. And there is no medical study proving a direct link between environmental pollution and mortality from cardiovascular diseases and shorter life expectancy.”
The Beijing News, another newspaper owned by the government, also claimed that a researcher said air pollution was one of the causes of mortality, but it was not the direct cause.
Many Chinese netizens were unconvinced by the arguments. “It [the propaganda] is self-contradictory. On one hand, it says that coal burning causes air pollution and hurts people’s health. On the other hand, it says there is no study proving this. Actually, this is common sense,” said one Weibo user.
Some critised the government’s attitude with one netizen saying, “How can the government deny the air pollution problem? Because of the government’s attitude, who dares to do related research?”