China is dealing with choking, dangerous smog this week that has already hit levels of 1,000 in some areas; for context, a reading of 300 is considered a health hazard. The air quality has forced school closings and flight cancellations, and one performer had to cancel her show after suffering a respiratory infection and asthma attack.
63-year old jazz singer Patti Austin was forced to cancel her performance in Beijing on Friday night after suffering from ill effects of the smog, although she was able to proceed with her Shanghai show on Saturday. Austin's manager Barry Orms made a statement, saying it wasn't their intent to lay blame on the country for the cancellation.
"Patti has expressed our belief that the Chinese government can be a leader in this very important issue," Orms said.
Winters are particularly bad for smog in many areas of China; last year Beijing suffered an emergency after levels reached 900. Officials have recently started taking an active interest in anti-pollution initiatives after years of development contributed to the poor air quality. China aims to reduce its usage of coal to under 65% by 2017 with the hopes that it will contribute to a rise in air quality. For now, several schools and highways have been closed, and residents in many areas are urged to reduce outdoor activity, especially those with health issues such as asthma.