This article analyses how Chinese media make sense of smog and air pollu- tion in China through the lens of London’s past. Images of London, the fog city, have figured in the Chinese press since the 1870s, and this collective memory has made London a powerful yet malleable tool for discursive con- testation on how to frame China’s current air pollution problem, which con- stitutes part of news media’s hegemonic and counter-hegemonic practices. Although the classic images of London as a fog city persist to the present day, the new narrative centres on the 1952 Great Smog, which was rediscov- ered and mobilized by Chinese news media to build an historical analogy. In invoking this foreign past, official media use London to naturalize the smog problem in China and justify the official stance, while commercialized media emphasize the bitter lessons to be learned and call for government action.
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