Pollution Driving Expats To Pack Up And Leave Beijing



BEIJING – With air pollution continuing to plague Beijing, there are increasing signs that it is pushing foreigners, often well-to-do expats, to leave the city.

"It's supposed to take up to a decade to solve the smog problem, but who knows what problems the pollution might have caused our bodies by then?" says Lin, a Malaysian national who has decided to leave Beijing with her husband and toddler after living in the city for 11 years, reports the Economic Observer.

Photo mckaysavage

About 200,000 expats live in Beijing, and the visible air pollution – heavy smog that blankets the city – and alarmingly high pollution readings published by the U.S. embassy, is a subject that is constantly talked about.

The embassy monitors PM 2.5 fine particulates in Beijing’s air and publishes its finding hourly. There is even a dedicated twitter feed for concerned Beijing residents: @BeijingAir.

The impact of the foreigner exodus is starting to become visible in neighborhoods such as Sanlitun, a popular haunt for expats with its bars and international stores.

"The terrible air makes patients very anxious – particularly foreigners with children," says Richard Saint Cyr, a family doctor working at the Beijing United Family Hospital.

Photo kevin dooley

Beijing’s foreign schools are also seeing a drop in numbers. Min (not his real name) was a student at an elite British school for boys. His family recently transferred him from Beijing to a private school in Hong Kong. When he got there, he found out that three of his teachers had also transferred to the same school to escape Beijing’s pollution.

So far there are no statistics to show how many foreign residents are leaving Beijing. One corporate headhunter said that the pollution was having a definite impact, with many high-paying posts vacant. He says requests for job postings in Shanghai and Beijing have dropped, and most candidates ask about the pollution situation before considering a job in the Chinese capital.

Photo the measure of mike

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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