China’s fabled pollution comes in various levels. A couple of weeks ago, when I was in Wuhan, we had a day of silver-grey overcast skies that doesn’t seem to affect the human function too much. 

However, visiting the Beijing motor show in 2012, we had a day of proper smog: grey-brown skies, eerie flat light and a sense (to me at least) that there wasn’t enough free oxygen around.

Beijing pollution made headline news in the English language newspaper during the trip to Wuhan. The city government is introducing a ‘Heavy Pollution Contingency Plan’ with ‘Blue, Yellow, Orange and Red’ warning levels. 

According to media reports, if the city declares a ‘Red’ alert, schools will close, 80 per cent of government cars have to stop travelling and private cars can only enter the city on alternate days. Factories may also be ordered to shut down.