Dispatches, Translation

A Foreigner in Beijing

Reflections of a returnee – Liuyu Ivy Chen

When I arrived in Beijing in January, I paused on the sidewalk and looked up: the sky was blue, cloudless, immense. I went to college in this city, and often visited after graduation. Back then, Beijing’s sky was typically a murky palette, a mix of smog, dust and sand from carbon emissions, courtyard demolitions, subway construction and northwestern storms. I soon learned that the government had shut down the city’s coal-burning heating systems during a recent eviction campaign which targeted low-skilled migrants. This controversial operation was vaguely documented in the Chinese media, but its result was clearly reflected on the sky.