Fit Some Exercise into your Schedule

Two articles (from NY Times and AP) on Mark Zuckerberg running in Beijing’s hazardous air.

Why do you think Zuckerberg is running in toxic air? What are his motives?

From NY Times

HONG KONG — A morning run can be the perfect way to overcome jet lag, but usually not when it’s through the choking haze of auto exhaust and industrial discharge.

In a Friday morning post, Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, announced his arrival in Beijing with a blithe message about what must have been a dizzying jog through the center of China’s capital, which has been suffering from a weeklong bout of hazardous air pollution.

Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, front right, running past Tiananmen gate, the entrance to the Forbidden City, in Beijing, on Friday. Credit Facebook, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, front right, running past Tiananmen gate, the entrance to the Forbidden City, in Beijing, on Friday. Credit Facebook, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“It’s great to be back in Beijing! I kicked off my visit with a run through Tiananmen Square, past the Forbidden City and over to the Temple of Heaven,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook, most likely using a virtual private network to get around the Chinese government Internet filters, which block his site.

In a photo accompanying the post, made about 10:30 a.m., Mr. Zuckerberg smiles alongside several running companions in front of the famous portrait of Mao Zedong that overlooks Tiananmen Square.

At 9 a.m. an air-quality monitor at the United States Embassy in Beijing calculated the level of PM2.5, ultrafine particles that damage respiration, at 305 micrograms per cubic meter. That level is deemed “hazardous” under American air-quality standards.

The color of the sky was the sort of gray hue that indicates a bad pollution day. The faint smell of something burning hung in the air. Many children on buses, or scooting to school with their parents or nannies, wore face masks. In homes and offices, air purifiers were cranked up to the highest setting.

The background for the photo of Mr. Zuckerberg’s run, directly in front of the Forbidden City at the center of Beijing, is normally public-relations friendly. But by ignoring the air quality, Mr. Zuckerberg inadvertently stirred an online debate about China’s major air pollution problems.

During the past two years, Mr. Zuckerberg has made several high-profile trips to China and has done little to stifle conjecture about his ambitions to bring Facebook to the country. During a visit by China’s Internet czar, Lu Wei, to Facebook’s campus in the United States in 2014, Mr. Zuckerberg showed off a copy of a collection of speeches and propaganda directives by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

Mr. Zuckerberg has also been public with his personal project of learning Mandarin. In two recent trips to Beijing, Mr. Zuckerberg has spoken Chinese, the first time in an informal chat at China’s Tsinghua University and the second time in a more formal speech about his plans for Facebook.

On Facebook, responses to Mr. Zuckerberg’s run ran the gamut from mocking to genuinely concerned about his health.

One user, Christina Tan, sought to warn Mr. Zuckerberg: “Mark, don’t u see the air pollution? Stop running outside! Beijing is my home, but I’m not recommending you run outside.”

Although some noted he should have worn a face mask, others joked about his ability to access Facebook despite the Chinese government’s cracking down on ways to get around the so-called Great Firewall, which keeps Chinese users cordoned off from the wider Internet.

Others simply took umbrage with where the photo was staged, at the heart of Tiananmen Square.

“The floor you stepped has been covered by blood from students who fought for democracy. But, enjoy your running in China, Mark. :),” wrote a user named Cao Yuzhou.

On Twitter, that sentiment was reflected in an image in which Mr. Zuckerberg had been photoshopped in place of the famous “tank man” in front of a line of tanks from the 1989 military crackdown on the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square.

Within China, news of Mr. Zuckerberg’s run was quickly picked up by the tech media. On China’s Weibo, the microblogging service, Chinese users were as sarcastic as those on Facebook.

One named Bpxue wrote, “He climbed over the Great Fire Wall to breathe in smog. He’s trying too hard!”

Another wrote, “Shoot, he is running without a face mask, no wonder it’s called fei si bu ke,” a reference to a sarcastic nickname for Facebook in China that roughly translates to “must die” or “doomed.”


From AP (Associated Press) on MSN

Zuckerberg’s run in Beijing’s toxic air stirs Chinese public

By DIDI TANG 1 day ago

A photo of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg jogging Friday morning in downtown Beijing’s notorious smog has prompted a torrent of amusing comments and some mockery on Chinese social media.

Zuckerberg is a favorite personality among the Chinese public, despite Facebook’s being banned in the country alongside other overseas social media platforms. He’s also become somewhat notorious for persistent yet so far futile efforts to woo leaders enforcing China’s strict online censorship.

The young tech tycoon is in Beijing to attend an economic forum over the weekend, when some of the world’s business and finances leaders will rub shoulders with senior Chinese politicians.

Zuckerberg posted the photo to his Facebook page of him and five others running through Tiananmen Square with the famous gate to the Forbidden City imperial palace in the background. None wore the air-filtering face masks that are ubiquitous in Beijing and other Chinese cities.

At the time the photo was taken, Beijing’s air pollution index was well into the hazardous zone at about 15 times of the level considered safe by the World Health Organization. Health experts urge people to avoid any outdoor activities on such heavily polluted days.

Chinese residents wondered aloud whether Zuckerberg’s jog was yet another gesture aimed at pleasing the Chinese authorities who claim they are gradually winning the battle against air pollution.

Previous efforts include Zuckerberg’s telling China’s top Internet official on a visit to Facebook’s California headquarters in 2014 that he was engrossed in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s collected speeches. The same year he famously engaged his audience in halting Chinese at a forum at prestigious Tsinghua University while avoiding mention of the government ban on Facebook.

“Kissing up?” commented Tom Wang, a Chinese environmentalist, who reposted Zuckerberg’s running photo and added a graphic of Beijing’s air quality readings from Friday morning.

Journalist and avid runner Peng Yuanwen joked that Zuckerberg’s lungs had single-handedly filtered Beijing’s smog after the city’s air quality noticeably improved by early afternoon.

“The human-flesh smog vacuum is better when it’s American-made,” teased Peng, playingon a joke among Beijing residents that they filter the city’s air with their lungs by inhaling harmful particles.

Others noted that Zuckerberg’s run took him through the square where hundreds of thousands of Chinese students gathered in the spring of 1989 to demand democracy. The movement ended in the early hours of June 4 after troops and tanks crushed all resistance, killing hundreds, possibly thousands of protesters.


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I began writing Elle's Adventure in China (EACh) in June 2014 as a fun summer project, but as obstacles kept interfering with my plans, I forked and forked more options. I took writing this novel much more seriously in mid-July, and want to have it officially published someday in my lifetime. As many artists put their hearts into their projects, so do I. I did not start out liking to read, but a professor suggested a book for me for homework a few years ago, and it was an amazing book. Since then, I read for pleasure, and I hope my novel, Elle's Adventure in China, does the same for as many of you as possible. The same thing goes to writing. I did not like to write until I took a course where the professor and papers made me love to write. I hope every one of you find what makes you happy and dedicated to work. In May 2015, I started my other blog, Read and Write Here (R&WH), as a place to post other things that aren't China- and Chinese culture-related and not EACh. I share some of my memories and experiences from student teaching, irregular participation in Daily Prompts, etc. I'd like to have regular people and bloggers to write book reviews and post it on R&WH someday. Keep reading and writing!

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