Chinese billionaire sells air — in a can

Since Joni Mitchell already foretold the paving of paradise to put up a parking lot, a wealthy Chinese businessman has had to resort to more creative measures in order to raise environmental awareness.

As the Global Times reports, philanthropist Chen Guangbiao has started shilling fresh air in a can — designed, as he claims, to draw attention to our need to protect the planet.

"We've sold 1,000 cans in Tongzhou district today, earning about 5,000 yuan ($792)," Chen told the paper on Monday.

Here's how the process works, at least according to the entrepreneur himself. Fresh air is "trapped" from areas where it still reportedly exists.

From there, it's a matter of engineering. A chip placed in the can gets triggered when its negative oxygen ions reach a certain level. At that point, the can's lid flips shut, although Chen claims the air's compression level is so great it doesn't even need to be sealed in.

Then there are the mechanics: "One only has to open the can, directly 'drink' it or put the nose close to the can to breath deeply," he instructed.

But the cans, emblazoned with Chen's smiling image, also have a strong political motivation.

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The controversial billionaire said he collected the air from Asia's revolutionary regions, including the Jiangxi Province and Taiwan.

Proceeds from the can's sales will also go toward the Chinese military's efforts in the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, a dispute that has recently flared into violent tensions with Japan.

So if the canned air approach doesn't interest anyone outside the environmental activism community, perhaps the patriotic angle will continue, as the Atlantic notes, to keep the product flying off shelves.