BEIJING — Surpassing electronics, clothing, home goods and nitrogen, filthy, noxious industrial fumes are now the leading product dispersed by Chinese markets and lungs. Analysts who have watched the numbers for years say there was slight downtick in fetid fog around the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, but since then its level of superiority has risen steadily.
“Once famous for its intricate silk goods, abundant rice production and trillions of metric tons of clean, fresh air, China quickly became the manufacturing and breathing hub of the Earth with the largest population in the world,” said Maureen Kaplan, an expert on eastern manufacturing with Moody’s Analytics. “Silk and tea gave way to fortune cookies and bootleg DVDs, and fresh oxygen gave way to putrid vapor.”
“China dominates that market,” Kaplan added. “But the U.S. isn’t far behind.”
Eastern Asian neighbors including The Philippines, Malaysia and Japan are already increasing their imports of polluted, particulate-ridden effluvium in order to keep up with the glut of supply. Chinese citizens are doing their part too – consumption and exhalation of toxic grey-yellow smog has increased by as much as tenfold on the mainland this century, and the sky literally appears to be the limit.
Angua Hing, a factory foreman, says that when he can see clearly, he can’t believe the changes in Chinese production he’s witnessed over the course of his life. While the Communist Party leadership appears hell-bent on producing as much sooty, contaminated, begrimed, gross gas as possible, Hing, 34, longs for the good old days of making something with his hands that retained its shape and structure as only a solid can.
“I used to oversee production of toys made with just under the American maximum levels of lead and cadmium,” Hing said, a small, insalubrious waterfall visibly spilling from his mouth as he spoke. “Those were the days. What am I making now? Nothing durable. Nothing firm. Nothing that will have a real, perceptible impact on people’s lives.”
Hing then coughed.