There were hours of rainfall, the city was getting soaked. And then something many Beijing residents did not expect on Monday evening.
Readers almost anywhere else in the world might scratch their heads at what is probably quite a commonplace phenomenon. But in smog-ridden Beijing, rainbows are rare.
Just how rare became evident in the hours that followed and into the early hours of Tuesday morning as Chinese netizens uploaded images in their thousands and shared their joy at the sight of the rainbow on social media.
“To us living in China, it was so rare and beautiful to see,” commented Weibo user TingLee. “It’s definitely not something we see very often.”
One rainbow photo, which captured the vivid colours above an urban scene, was the most popular. Suddenly Beijing was seen as if through a vintage Instagram filter.
“Could this be a sign of better things to come for our environment? I hope so,” another Weibo user said, showing how inevitably the first thoughts people had were about the state of their environment.
Rainbow mania also spread to popular Chinese instant messaging app WeChat.
The rainbow also excited Chinese state media. The power of the rainbow extended beyond the sheer delight and even further beyond expressions of desire for an improved air quality.
An editorial by China’s national newspaper the People’s Daily likened the rainbow’s appearance as “stabilising” China’s slumping stocks market.
“Rainbows always appear after the rain,” it said in a piece on Tuesday.
‘Blue skies today’
On Tuesday, the BBC’s Beijing bureau was happy to report a “blue sky day”.
“It’s usually grey and depressing. Like looking at a smudgy charcoal drawing. You often can’t see some buildings,” China producer Maria Byrne reported.
“But there are even some clouds in the sky today, which we don’t normally see! So it means we can open the windows in our bureau in we want to.”
“Goodnight rainbow. Hope to see you again.”
The words of one satisfied viewer on Monday evening.
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