Haze cure may need new Olympian vision

Updated: 2013-01-24 09:14

By Wu Wencong, Cui Jia and Tang Yue (China Daily)

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Summer of 2008 remembered fondly for victory over air pollution, report Wu Wencong, Cui Jia and Tang Yue.

It's now four and a half years since Beijing hosted the Olympic Games, and the event is frequently recalled with affection.

 Haze cure may need new Olympian vision

  The iconic China Central Television building is shrouded in heavy fog on Wednesday. Han Haidan / for China Daily

But the nostalgia is not centered on the fine displays of athleticism or the exciting opening ceremony. Instead, the smog and haze that have enveloped the capital in recent weeks have left people hankering for the blue skies and clean air that accompanied China's sojourn in the sporting spotlight.

Du Shaozhong, deputy head of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau in 2008, inevitably thinks of those days with great pride.

But he said the fresh air in 2008 was a special circumstance and the result of temporary anti-pollution measures, rather than something the city's residents can expect all year round, at least for now.

"Judging by the current situation, I would call it a 'Chinese miracle' if Beijing can solve its pollution problem within 20 years," said Du, who is now the director of the China Beijing Environment Exchange.

Many of the measures adopted to control airborne pollution during the Beijing Olympics were unprecedented and cannot be repeated, he said.

As the capital of the world's second-largest economy, the quality of the air in Beijing is an important factor in the country's reputation and political image, according to a report released by the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau earlier this month.

To better protect the athletes and present the world with the picture of a city that boasts clear blue skies rather than being shrouded in smog, China made the improvement of air quality a national goal during the 2008 Games.

Backed by the central government, six cities, including Beijing, the neighboring municipality of Tianjin, and nearby provinces, implemented an extraordinarily varied series of measures that resulted in a marked improvement in the quality of the capital's air between July 20 and Sept 20, 2008.

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