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Pollution making Beijing hazardous place to live, says Chinese report

Air Pollution in Beijing, China

A woman covers her mouth and nose with her hand as she walks along a street with her friends in Beijing. Photograph: Goh Chai Hin/EPA


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Pollution making Beijing hazardous place to live, says Chinese report” was written by Jonathan Kaiman in Beijing and agencies, for theguardian.com on Thursday 13th February 2014 13.00 UTC

Severe pollution in Beijing has made the Chinese capital “barely suitable” for living, according to an official Chinese report, as the world’s second largest economy tries to reduce often hazardous levels of smog caused by decades of rapid growth.

Pollution is a rising concern for China’s stability-obsessed leaders, keen to douse potential unrest as affluent city dwellers turn against a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has tainted much of the country’s air, water and soil.

The report, by the Beijing-based Social Science Academic Press and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, ranked the Chinese capital second worst out of 40 global cities for its environmental conditions, official media reported on Thursday.

Moscow was rated the least hospitable, based on factors such as cost of living and security, as well as pollution.

While China’s state media acknowledges that the smog is a serious problem, the report’s language is unusually strong, and higher authorities may be attempting to blunt its impact. The Communist party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, put a positive twist on the findings, saying that its authors simply held Chinese cities to exceptionally high standards.

China’s smog has brought some Chinese cities to a near standstill, caused flight delays and forced schools to shut.

Beijing was hit by severe levels of pollution at least once every week, according to the 2012 Blue Paper for World Cities report. That was on top of a significant level of air pollution covering the capital for 189 days in 2013, according to the city’s Environmental Protection Bureau.

Though China’s record on pollution is patchy, the government said on Wednesday it would set up a 10bn yuan (£990m) fund to fight air pollution, offering rewards for companies that clean up operations.

Overall the government has pledged to spend over 3tn yuan to tackle the problem, creating a growing market for companies that can help boost energy efficiency and lower emissions.

Beijing will also shut 300 polluting factories this year and publish a list of industrial projects to be halted or suspended by the end of April, state news agency Xinhua said.


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