Beijing or Bladerunner? China's Sandstorm as Seen By Netizens

By Alistair Baker-Brian, March 16, 2021

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As China’s worst sandstorm in 10 years swept across Beijing and neighboring provinces, netizens wasted no time in posting their best snaps of the somewhat apocalyptic scenes. 

The sandstorm, which originated in Mongolia, led the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) to issue a yellow warning. In many places, the air quality index (AQI) was maxed out. 

READ MORE: Beijing Crippled by Worst Sandstorm in 10 Years

Some chose to capture Beijing’s iconic landmarks shrouded in an ominous layer of red mist.


The CCTV Tower in Beijing CBD. Image via @waltbai/Instagram

Forbidden-City.jpegThe Forbidden City. Image via @中国国家地理/Weibo

Others opted for the ‘before-and-after’ comparison, a hazy shot contrasted with a brighter day. 


The contrast between the Beijing CBD-skyline. Image via @DJWhite/Weibo

Some netizens’ posts focused on the protective gear people wore while outside in Beijing.


A child wears a full face-covering. Image via @早报网/Weibo


A cyclist chooses to take no chances. Image via @radiocanadaenvironnement/Instagram

Others went for a more light-hearted approach. One Weibo user posted a collage of six images and challenged netizens to find which three were from Beijing and which three were from the movie Bladerunner 2049, the 2017 action movie starring Ryan Gosling. 


The post reads "Out of these six photos, three are from Bladerunner 2049, while the other three are from today in Beijing." Image via @雷斯林Raist/Weibo


From top to bottom, the text in each image reads "Heading outside," "On the way to work" and "Arriving at the office." Image via @骑猪去取经/Weibo

Fortunately for those in the capital, air quality is largely back to normal. As of press time, AQI-levels in almost all areas of Beijing have dropped below 100. Some suburban areas even have levels of air deemed healthy. 


The roundabout at Chaoyangmen, Beijing. Image via Alistair Baker-Brian


The Beijing second ring-road heading south towards Galaxy SOHO. Image via Alistair Baker-Brian


The Liangma River, Beijing. Image via Alistair Baker-Brian

Of course, there is no escaping poor air quality in Beijing at certain times of the year. But for now, Beijingers can at least go outside without that zombie-apocalypse feeling. 

READ MORE: Why the Haze These Days? Explaining Beijing's Recent Smog

[Cover image via @中国国家地理/Weibo]

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