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NPC Highlights Fighting against Smog 
   2016-03-11 19:22:46    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Chi Huiguang


During the ongoing parliamentary session, smog has been one of the hottest issues amid the growing public concern over air quality.
CRI's reporter Chi Huiguang has details.


There is a Chinese idiom - Feng Ping Lang Jing - which means Wind Ceasing and Waves still. It is meant as a wish, but many people in Beijing find themselves wishing for the opposite - a strong wind to disperse the smog.

[photo: baidu.com]

Liao Yong is a former resident of the Chinese capital who gave up on wishing and moved away because of Beijing's air pollution.

"In recent years, smog has become more and more frequent, especially in winter. My son went to the hospital more often, or dared not play outside but had to stay at home during the smoggy days."

For the health of the whole family, he applied for a job in Shenzhen, far to the south in Guangdong province and moved his family there.

The new job is completely unrelated to his collage major.

"Over ten years' social resources and classmates and friends returned to zero right away."

Bi Mingming, a mother of two children, is also considering moving out of the city for the health of her family.

"Really, during the worst smoggy days in Beijing, we were considering emigration seriously. The kids are so little. It's okay if they just get pneumonia, but what if the more serious diseases?"

While infuriating the public, the heavy air pollution puts huge pressure on environmental authorities and legislators as well.

A new law on air pollution control took effect at the start of this year, the first new legislation of its kind in 15 years.

Deputy Li Ruifeng, professor at Taiyuan University of Technology [photo: baidu.com]

Deputy Li Ruifeng, professor at Taiyuan University of Technology, is an environmental protection expert. He explains the responsibility of the NPC deputies:

"The first task is law making. Now, we have passed the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law and Environment Protection Law. This is the primary work of the NPC deputies: setting the standard first."

According to him, the new law metes out tougher punishments to industries and seeks to curb air pollution at its root, showing the determination of fighting against smog of both legislators and government.

In the past, companies and organizations that failed to comply with legal requirements on air pollution faced fines of up to 500 thousand yuan, or about 80-thousand U.S. dollars. Under the new law, the limit has been scrapped in the hope that reckless polluters will no longer be able to afford to pollute as fines continue to add up.

The new law also mandates that gasoline be produced at a higher quality and alternative energy be used to reduce coal consumption.

[photo: baidu.com]

Chen Boping heads a German-based NGO in China. She pays tribute to China's efforts in optimizing the energy structure.

"Actually, the root of smog has much to do with energy structure. We saw China's promises on APEC and the effective efforts China has made at the United Nations Climate Change Conference."

The biggest change under the new law is that ambient air quality is now the first priority.

It wasn't even mentioned in the old law.

Niu Zhiming is an environmental specialist with the Asian Development Bank.

"This is a big change, because if we just focus on the reduction of the pollutants without the improvement of air quality that means the air pollution control has not achieved what particularly the people expect in term of public health and overall environment quality."

Deputy Li Ruifeng says if the new law is enforced strictly the air will be clean and clear every day.

"Supervising and examining - this is a significant function of NPC. Governments are the objects of supervision."

The official has taken part in several environmental investigations under the new law and he admits there are problems, especially factories in heavy industrial sectors.

"The reasons involve lagging technology and management. But the clear standards and examinations of the NPC are strengthening the control of pollution."

He says improvements at Taiyuan Steel Corporation, a stainless steel producer, is representative and typical.

"It has a complete production system including atmospheric emission, water treatment, and solid waste disposals, which caused heavy pollution years ago. After several examines and efforts, the government put pressure on the company and forced it to improve a lot."

Another concern from law makers is the disclosure of pollution-related data.

According to official numbers, Beijing's average PM2.5 density for last year dropped about 6 percent.

Chen Songxi, a professor of Statistics at Peking University, says the improvement was mainly because of stricter law enforcement and a slowing of economic growth.

However the professor notes it's hard to determine how much the law takes effect, due to a lack of detailed data.

"We call for better opening of economic and energy data so that we can study and separate two causes to access the effect of the anti-pollution law."

Deputy Li agrees. He says he has submitted a motion to add the number and density of the monitoring point, to strengthen the information disclosure.

Locals have noticed improvements to Beijing's air quality. former resident Liao Yong has noticed too.

"Since January of this year, the frequency and severity of the smog have been declining. We can see the positive development of smog control. We know it will take a long time to cure. As long as the smog is controlled effectively, we will consider moving back to Beijing."

For CRI/Studio+, I am Chi Huiguang.


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