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Street barbecue fines to rocket

2013-07-26 09:46 Global Times Web Editor: Sun Tian

Beijing plans to quadruple the fine for street barbecue stalls in an effort to curb air pollution, authorities confirmed on Wednesday.

The new regulation proposes that the maximum fine for outdoor barbecues be increased to 20,000 yuan ($3,528) from the current 5,000 yuan. Authorities also confirmed that barbecue stalls should be excluded from downtown public areas, such as streets and plazas.

Meanwhile, chengguan, or urban management officers, will continue their efforts to force street barbecue vendors to move on from public areas. This process officially began in October 2000.

The proposed regulation, published on the website of the Standing Committee of Beijing Municipal People's Congress on Wednesday, is currently being reviewed by its members.

The proposal has sparked heated discussion, as many questioned whether the move is necessary and how much these barbecue stalls actually contribute to Beijing's air pollution.

"The proposals strengthen the regulations on minor polluters, but they are weak in tackling major ones," Zhang Xiaobo, founder of tanpaifang.com, a carbon emission website, told the Global Times.

Zhang's opinion was echoed by Wang Tao, a scholar at Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy.

"People tend to criticize barbecue businesses because pollutants from their stalls, PM10, or particles with diameters up to 10 micrometers, are visible. But it is the invisible PM2.5, or particles with diameter less than 2.5 micrometers, to blame for our poor air condition," Wang told the Global Times.

Research conducted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in February showed that motor vehicle emissions contribute the most to Beijing's PM2.5 pollution. The burning of coals in rural Beijing areas and sand dust from Northwest China were listed as second and third largest contributing factors, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"Our focus should be on tackling PM2.5, and the largest emission comes from vehicles," Wang said, adding that the complexity and the difficulty of combating vehicle emissions might have led the government to crack down on barbecues instead.

The Beijing News reported most of the stalls are located between the city's Third and Fourth Ring Roads. Chengguan routinely shut down the stalls, but the owners always show up again the next day.

"A friend of mine runs a barbecue business and he earns 600,000 yuan every year. Do you think a mere fine of 20,000 is deterrent enough?" Zhang said.

Ye Limei, a research fellow with the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that outdoor barbecues are getting worse in encroaching on public areas and should be regulated even if they contributed less to air pollution.

"In view of the recent injuries related with urban management officers, the municipal government should be extremely careful when implementing this regulation," Ye noted.

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