How bad is the pollution in Beijing?
International organisations, including the United Nations, have consistently ranked Beijing as having one of the world's worst levels of air pollution. On some days, the smog in Beijing becomes so stifling that the Chinese government even cautions people against venturing outdoors.
This can be unhealthy for children who can develop respiratory problems, and even those expats who've managed to live their whole lives without allergies may find sinus congestion and a runny nose unavoidable side effects. That said, most healthy people suffer no lasting harm.
The government in China has made recent efforts to reduce the pollution, but as the number of privately-owned vehicles rises and as industry continues to boom, progress seems to be at a minimum.
Expats will find that the air is cleaner farther from the city centre, and running an air-purifier at night or exercising are good way to counter any ill-effects.
Will the communist government affect me?
Not really, for most foreigners living in Beijing the communist government means a bit more red tape to deal with. Certain Internet sites may be blocked and certain books and films banned, which can be frustrating, but the government is unlikely to feel repressive to non-citizens. The culture is every bit as consumer-oriented as the West.
What is the weather like?
Beijing has four distinct seasons with the most extreme weather in July and January. The summers in Beijing are hot with rain and humidity making the city more uncomfortable by increasing the effect of pollution. The winters are dry with temperatures often below freezing. Autumn and spring are mostly pleasant with occasional showers.
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