No, it's not a "fake sun" or "virtual sunrise" on that Tienanmen Square monitor. It's a commercial.

real estate on screen
CC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter

The Daily Mail says China starts televising the sunrise on giant TV screens because Beijing is so clouded in smog. Inhabitat writes Is Beijing's Pollution So Bad that Residents Need a Fake Sun? Business Insider writes: "CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciuto noted: "If smog blocks out the sun, throw up a video of it."

But it is not new. It is not a reaction to the pollution. I saw it in Tiananmen Square on another smoggy day in September, and watched the whole thing, a patriotic flyover of China on the biggest monitor I had ever seen. I didn't photograph the sun; I thought that the fact that they considered suburban sprawl to be a defining feature of the future of China more hilarious.

UPDATE: Tech in Asia confirms my story.

That sunrise was probably on the screen for less than 10 seconds at a time, as it was part of an ad for tourism in China’s Shandong province. The ad plays every day throughout the day all year round no matter how bad the pollution is. The photographer simply snapped the photo at the moment when the sunrise appeared. Look closely, and you can even see the Shandong tourism logo in the bottom right corner.

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