The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

World News

April 10, 2014

In China, jar of French mountain air fetches $860

(Continued)

BEIJING —

The auction closed on the night of March 30, and Chengdu-based artist and entrepreneur Li Yongzheng was the highest bidder.

"I have always been appreciative of Kegang's conceptual art, and this piece was very timely," Li said in a telephone interview. "This past year, whether it was Beijing, Chengdu or most Chinese cities, air pollution has been a serious problem. This piece of work really suits the occasion."

Liang is not the only one to make money from China's air-pollution angst. Entrepreneurs also see the potential, and so do tourism officials in parts of the country where skies are clear.

Chinese President Xi Jinping joked to Guizhou province delegates during last month's National People's Congress that the scenic southwestern province could put its air up for sale. Days later, the province's tourism bureau announced plans to sell canned air as souvenirs for tourists.

"Canned air will force us to stay committed to environmental protection," provincial tourism director Fu Yingchun said recently.

In central Henan province, local tourism authorities promoting a resort scooped up mountain air and gave away bags of it in downtown Zhengzhou, the provincial capital. City dwellers greedily inhaled the air, and some said they planned to visit the mountain resort to get more than a lungful.

Chen Guangbiao, a recycling tycoon who briefly made headlines with his abortive plan to purchase The New York Times, has been selling fresh air in cans under his "Good Person" brand.

Want one? They sell for $3 each on China's online bazaar of Taobao.

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