Improving air quality seen as 'priority of priorities'

Updated: 2014-10-27 00:40


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Improving air quality seen as 'priority of priorities'

Sunshine and blue sky brought tourists back out on the streets of Beijing on Sunday thanks to a strong wind that blew away the smog of the previous few days. WANGZHUANGFEI/ CHINA DAILY

Beijing promises to reduce smog by about a third ahead of APEC meetings

The discharge of pollutants in Beijing and bordering Hebei province and Tianjin is expected to be cut by a third during next month's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings, thanks to a series of air pollution control measures.

"China will take the highest-level measures to guarantee air quality during the APEC meetings," said Chai Fahe, vice-president of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, on Saturday.

"It is expected that the pollutants discharge in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region will be reduced by 30 to 40 percent, and the air quality will hopefully be further improved," he said.

Chai said that since June, Beijing has shut down some of its power plants, eliminated old vehicles and boilers, used clean energy, closed more than 300 polluting factories, and upgraded technologies to cut emissions.

The capital will also restrict cars based on an odd-and-even-number rule, almost halving the number of cars on the road during the APEC meetings.

In addition, major polluting businesses will be ordered to cut production, and work on some construction sites will be suspended.

APEC will have five multiday meetings from Nov 5 to 11, capped off by the high-profile Economic Leaders' Meeting on Nov 10 and 11.

According to a forecast of the China National Environmental Monitoring Center, most parts of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region will enjoy favorable conditions for pollution to clear up from Saturday to Nov 3.

Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Friday that ensuring air quality for the APEC meetings is the "priority of priorities" for the current air pollution control work.

Smog, which has aroused people's worries about health, now brings more troubles.

On Saturday, when the official PM2.5 reading was as high as 400, pilots had difficulty landing at Beijing Capital International Airport due to the poor visibility.

An aircraft of the Russian airline Aeroflot from Moscow to Beijing had to circle the airspace above Beijing eight times while waiting for wind to drive off smog. After circling for more than 90 minutes, the flight finally landed at the airport at 2:10 am.

Many flights that had been scheduled to arrive at Beijing late Saturday also had to wait to land, were diverted to other airports, or even canceled, the Beijing News reported.

While air quality in Beijing became good on Sunday and people were enjoying blue skies and clear autumn air, another wave of pollution is on the way again, according to the China Envrionment Monitoring Center.

The smog is expected to re-appear on Monday and remain until Thursday in most parts of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area, the center said.

Xinhua—China Daily