China objects to US tweeting on air quality

China told foreign embassies yesterday to stop publishing their own reports on air quality in the country, escalating its objections to a popular US Embassy Twitter feed that tracks pollution in smoggy Beijing.

Wu Xiaoqing, an environmental minister, said that only the Chinese government is authorised to monitor and publish air quality information.

China has long taken issue with the US Embassy's postings of Beijing's air quality on a Twitter feed with more than 19,000 followers. The US Embassy readings are based on a monitoring station within embassy grounds, and pollution levels are rated according to a US Environmental Protection Agency standard that is more stringent than the one used by the Chinese government.

The embassy yesterday reported 47 micrograms of fine particulate matter in the air and said the level was "unhealthy for sensitive groups."