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matteo

Experience in low-pollution cities?

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matteo

Hi all, 

I'm passionate about Chinese culture and language and have been thinking for a while of spending a period in China living and working. 

I am an engineer so could probably look for an expat job, but most likely would prefer teaching english as I think it would allow for more free time and opportunities to explore and socialize with people (which is kind of the point, isn't it).

 

My biggest concern at the moment is that my partner suffers quite severely from asthma; I know most cities in China are quite polluted and have a very bad rap on that, but I'm finding hard to understand 

1) how bad it actually is? should someone suffering from asthma avoid China at all costs because the risk is life-threatening?

2) Are there any practical options for having a China experience in less popular spots than say Beijing or Shanghai, which might also be less polluted and safer under that point of view?

 

Thank you very much for your suggeestions!

 

 

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anonymoose

There are regions of China where the environment is clean, but these tend to be in remote and underdeveloped areas, and not the kind of place you'd want to be stranded if you need hospitalization.

 

I suspect that it will also be difficult to find a job of any description that is in a place remote or undeveloped enough to be clean.

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Alex_Hart

Depends on what level of pollution you're talking about and what you mean by "practical."

 

The north has been getting better, but still has plenty of days that go over 300 PM2.5; that is pretty bad. In Hangzhou/Shanghai/Suzhou, you can expect most days to have some pollution (~100) from fall to spring, and bad days can go over 200. This is today, says it's around 159 PM2.5:

1110198039_WeChatImage_20190117083834.thumb.jpg.82c7e08d38934a9e1ad39ec99cb2f7b9.jpg

 1174625314_WeChatImage_20190117083528.thumb.jpg.a2df28c75376da8e4fcecfa1c6862d4a.jpg1146374646_WeChatImage_20190117083534.thumb.jpg.01cc34680c8f4522c85d736a2f5547bf.jpg

 

I had chosen Hangzhou for its lack of pollution, but hadn't quite realized that it was still this smoggy. It doesn't affect me physically, but I swim in an indoor pool and work indoors. Some of my friends who go jogging outside say it does indeed affect them, either with a sore throat or makes them feel light headed. My girlfriend also gets sick every year, which she never did in our college town back in the US. I can't tell you how much of this is placebo, other variables or pollution, but I would not necessarily feel comfortable bringing someone with severe asthma here. On the other hand, I'm sure someone will pop in and say there are thousands of Chinese people here who live with asthma, so there's that line of thinking (not one I particularly adhere to).

 

 

Now, assuming you meant 1st/2nd tier cities by "practical", there are still options. Shenzhen and Guangzhou both have much less pollution, more similar to LA than to Hangzhou. Hangzhou is "usually" around 60-100 with spikes into the 200s (our yearly average is 66 because we have no pollution during the summer, but goes up to around 100 during colder months), but Guangzhou is "usually" around 39-50, with spikes up into the 100s. Xiamen is also worth looking into.

 

If you're willing to leave 1st/2nd tier cities, there are way more options. Even in Zhejiang, Hangzhou will have 100+ PM2.5 but Quzhou (about an hour by bullet train) will have 40 PM2.5. This is largely because of car emissions; up to 40% of the pollution in Hangzhou/Shanghai comes from cars. There will be virtually no expat scene and you'll almost definitely be teaching English in these kinds of places, but you'll have a much more legit China experience if you avoid the foreigners anyway! Off the East coast, there are other cities, like Kunming in Yunnan, which have much better air. If you're teaching English, they're worth considering. Heck, you could even consider the tourist destinations with almost no pollution, like Dali or Xishuangbanna. There are still English teachers up in the mountains, but you'll be hard pressed to find any other jobs (except maybe tourism).

 

So, to sum up, depends! Avoid the north (and the west, like Xi'an and Chengdu) completely - these are high pollution areas. The Jiangnan area (Zhejiang, Suzhou, Shanghai) will have plenty of work options, but still have considerable smog. The far south (Guangzhou, Fujian) will also still have jobs and have much less pollution, but it's still not Rocky Mountain air. Bigger cities have worse pollution than smaller cities.

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abcdefg

I have mild to moderate asthma of long standing. Have found Kunming air quality to be pretty good. Kunming never has "bad air" days during which I'm unable to exercise outside. 

 

 

Quote

"Experience in low-pollution cities?"

 

My experience with Kunming has been very good.

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mungouk

@matteo in case you've not already considered it — if your partner isn't a Chinese citizen, then since you're not married your partner would also need a work or a study visa to be able to join you.

 

 

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matteo

Thank you very much guys for your feedback, it is really helpful. 

I totally agree that the answer depends on what's individually considered "practical" and "polluted", and all in all China being such a big country it ends up being a bit of a silly question 😁 but hearing some first-hand information is really reassuring, especially considering how fast things are changing. 

 

Thanks mungouk for pointing that out about the visa, I was expecting that but don't think it should be a problem as she'll want to work or study as well...I guess at worst I'll have to get married 😅

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Dawei3

Matteo, While China is a big country, I think it's a fine question - and this is a great place to get insights from many perspectives.    

 

One thing not explicitly mentioned above is that smaller cities (in Chinese terms) can still have significant pollution depending on the industry that's there.  There is a free app (with lots & lots of advertisements) called China AQI that will tell you air quality in a handful of major cities, i.e., most of the cities mentioned above.  

 

If you go, your partner will want to bring with her asthma medicines.  While you can get them in China, quality & counterfeiting is often an issue.  

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ChTTay

My favourite pollution app is called “Air visual” and I recommend that for scoping out pollution. The logo on the iPhone version is light blue with a man wearing a mask in a sort of bubble. 

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imron
On 1/17/2019 at 8:06 AM, matteo said:

Thank you very much for your suggeestions!

Maybe plan a short trip here with your partner to see how you cope?

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timacro

Chengdu. Here you can keep a banlance between work and life,since a lot of global technology companies has came to Chengdu and life here is pleasant.  And the air is good for most of the year.

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timacro

BTW, the government here encourages entrepreneurship and offers a lot of convenience.

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Publius
21 minutes ago, timacro said:

Chengdu.

How's that para-xylene (PX) project going?

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timacro

It still exist, but under more stringent controls to meet environmental protection requirements. Infact,  the factory is about 70 kilometers from Chengdu,and air quality there is even better than Chengdu. You have to see the government's efforts to protect the environment. Since part of my work is related to testing equipment, I can clearly feel that the government has stepped up its efforts to protect the environment in recent years. As an example, this is the weather in Chengdu these two days

1.jpg

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Publius
2 hours ago, timacro said:

the factory is about 70 kilometers from Chengdu

That doesn't sound right. On Baidu Maps and Google Maps, the driving distance from Longfeng township to Chengdu railway station is about 51 km. What makes it more controversial is "that the Longfeng site is not only often upwind of both Pengzhou and Chengdu, but that it also lies on the alluvial delta of the Tuo river." (Source)

main_15.jpg.53a89d0ebd088a047844f0720a812165.jpg

I asked because I grew up surrounded by petrochemical plants. I blame them for my bad teeth. Pictures like this aren't exactly confidence boosters.

 

2 hours ago, timacro said:

this is the weather in Chengdu these two days

That proves nothing. Here's Beijing's weather. Better than Chengdu, don't you think? Welcome to Beijing.

Screenshot_2019-01-19-12-32-25-191_com_miui.weather2.thumb.png.78286bbccb028386eca4dc99dd69675c.png

 

 

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somethingfunny

I’m afraid I’m also unconvinced. I was in chengdu three years ago and the pollution was some of the worst I’d seen in China.  Three years is a long time, but not long enough for everyone to stop driving their cars.

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DavyJonesLocker

Beijing right now. AQI excellent but not representative of a normal day here.

However I think it has remarkably improved in the years I have been here. I wonder what the rolling average of AQI had been over the last 5 years. Will research when I get a chance

Screenshot_20190119-161216.jpg

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timacro
3 hours ago, Publius said:

That proves nothing.

I don't think 70 and 51 could make difference, although I'v got Longfeng by driving for about 70Km three years ago from south of Chengdu.  The point is the air quality in Chengdu has improved rapidly in recent years.  By comparison, the air quality in Beijing is much worse than that in Chengdu. Maybe you think a single day's AQI prove nothing, I'd like to show you the last five years of AQI of Chengdu. As I lived here for over 18 years, I have witnessed the great progress of the city in environmental protection, And I prefer to be a participant in construction this city rather than being a critic.

1.png

2.png

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timacro

And here is the AQI in Beijing, don't you think? Welcome to Chengdu.

3.png

4.png

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imron

I love Beijing, but let's face it, it's never going to be winning any (reputable) clean air awards.

 

Never been to Chengdu, but I don't expect it will be winning any of those awards either.

 

Welcome to Australia (just don't go swimming in the Murray-Darling)

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