Beijing vows to clean up the environment

Beijing vows to clean up the environment

When government leaders met in Beijing last week, they made one thing clear: the pollution from factories and businesses must end

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Residents wear masks for protection during a day of heavy pollution in Beijing.
Residents wear masks for protection during a day of heavy pollution in Beijing.
Photo: AP

Severe environmental problems on the mainland took the lead at the annual legislative meeting last week. Leaders made pledges to solve the air, water and soil pollution problems in the country, issues which could have a negative effect on Beijing's economy.

At the session of the National People's Congress in Beijing, President Xi Jinping pledged to "punish, with an iron hand, any violators who destroy the ecology or environment, with no exceptions", according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

This environmental focus at the session comes alongside crackdowns on coal use and carbon emissions.

Officials at the meeting said they would cut coal consumption by 160 million tonnes over the next five years, while the vice mayor of Beijing said the city would shut down 300 factories and take 200,000 heavily polluting vehicles off the roads this year.

China releases more greenhouse gases than any other country - twice the amount of the United States.

"They are really serious about this, except the problem is really entrenched," said Chinese University political analyst Willy Lam. "It is intertwined with all aspects of industry and agriculture and so forth, and it's a really difficult problem to tackle."

The public passion for China's natural world became crystal clear this week with the release of a documentary by Chai Jing, a former state television network reporter. More than 175 million people viewed the film online in just a few days, creating rare public debate about the country's environment.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Beijing vows to fix the environment

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