Hot words (Dec 5-Dec 11)

Updated: 2011-12-12 11:26

By Xu Pingting (

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Most Chinese were unaware of PM2.5 until about half a month ago, but the air quality measurement soon became a hot word online.

Data released by the US Embassy in China showed the PM2.5 index in Beijing was 522 on Dec 4, topping the maximum 500. Meanwhile, Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said it was “light pollution” that day.

But seeing is believing and the heavy smog that blanketed Beijing caused many to question the official version. "One may be poisoned without taking anything but air" became a popular saying online.

Hot words (Dec 5-Dec 11)
[Zhao Shunqing/Newscartoon]

Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are referred to as "fine" particles and are believed to pose health risks. Because of their small size (less than one-seventh of the average width of a human hair), these fine particles can lodge deeply into the lungs.

The fine particles have gradually come under the spotlight after media reports pointed out that China's air-quality monitoring has not been considering PM2.5 as a gauge of overall air quality. It is thought this is the reason for the frequent discrepancies between good ratings by government and the actual poor experience of urban Chinese.

The environmental authority sought opinions on whether to adopt the PM2.5 standard in gauging air quality and unsurprisingly, the reaction was a unanimous "yes".

"PM2.5 is good but far from enough. It should be considered a gauge of administrative performance for local governments, like GDP," wrote one Internet user.

Bonus tax

Economic professor Ge Changyin became a hit online after micro blogging "one more yuan in year-end bonus may cause 1,000 more yuan tax. For example, a bonus of 18,001 yuan would mean paying 1,154 yuan more tax than a bonus of 18,000."

The speculation was confirmed by tax authority in Beijing who said it is due to differential tax rates and companies can avoid it by some accounting techniques.

A media critic from the Southern Metropolis Daily called the tax system "absurd" saying it causes trouble for so many people and slows social effectiveness.

"The fundamental way is to fill the loophole of tax laws," said a tax lawyer, "Law makers didn't think carefully when making the law."

But there are some Internet users who care little about it as a bonus of 18,000 yuan does not affect them.

Bus safety

A draft regulation on school bus safety management was made public on Dec 11 by the State Council, with the public invited to submit comments.

The draft stipulates that local governments above the county level should take "overall responsibility" in school bus safety, and authorities of education, public security, transportation and product quality supervision should also properly perform their respective duties.

Many Internet users said a way to solve the problem is to "ask the leaders or leaders' kids to sit in school buses".

China started nationwide school bus safety checks and pledged increased spending on school buses in wake of a fatal accident that stirred public concern over safety.

Twenty-one people, including 19 preschoolers, died last month when a nine-seat school bus illegally carrying 64 people collided with a truck in Gansu province.

The authority seems to have taken a lesson from the tragedy. "I hope the law progress will not be based on tears and blood in future," wrote one micro-blogger.