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Gary Locke

Beijing wakes up to its first-ever 'red alert' for smog

Beijing wakes up to its first-ever 'red alert' for smog

On Tuesday morning, the phone at Torana Clean Air Center was ringing off the hook. As China’s capital woke up to its first-ever “red alert” for smog, the skies outside were a noxious gray, but the air inside the small storefront was crisp and clean, alive with the mechanical whirring of several air purifier machines.

“I’ve already sold seven machines worth 30,000 renminbi,” or about $4,700, said shopkeeper Yuan Yuxia as she tried to keep up with the steady stream of customers pushing through the door just 90 minutes after the shop opened. Pressing a button on her answering machine, her eyes popped. “I’ve got 31 messages to...

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