Wu Xiaoqing, vice minister of environmental protection. [China.org.cn]
A foreign embassy's monitoring and issuing of air quality data in China is technically inaccurate and goes against international conventions and Chinese laws, an environment official said Tuesday in Beijing.
Vice Minister of Environmental Protection Wu Xiaoqing said to monitor air quality and release results, which involves the public interest, is the duty of the Chinese government.
"Some foreign embassies and consulates in China are monitoring air quality and publishing the results themselves. It is not in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, as well as environmental protection regulations of China," Wu told a press conference.
Wu's remarks came in response to some foreign embassies and consulates in China, specifically, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai, monitoring local air quality and publishing the results online.
The move has resulted in fierce public debate, as results released by Beijing's weather forecasting station and the U.S. Embassy often differ -- the U.S. Embassy generally reports worse conditions.
Wu said it is not scientific to evaluate the air quality of an area with results gathered from just only one point inside that area, as the results cannot represent a city's overall air quality.
"According to international conventions, diplomats are obligated to respect and abide by the laws and regulations in the receiving states. In addition, they cannot interfere with the domestic issues of receiving states," said Wu.
"We wish those embassies and consulates will respect China's laws and stop publishing air quality data which is not representative," he said.
Wu said all 74 major cities will from the second half of the year publish more detailed data of air quality, including the reading of PM2.5.
Early this year Beijing began reporting PM2.5, a gauge considered stricter than PM10 standard, as it monitors "fine" particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter, which is considered more harmful to human health.