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Beijing to adopt strict air quality plan for APEC

2014-10-14 16:05 Xinhua Web Editor: Mo Hong'e

Smog-prone Beijing will adopt a special air pollution control plan for next month's APEC meetings, which features temporary closure of factories in the event of a pollution warning, local authorities said Tuesday.

Enterprises and coal-consuming furnaces on the capital's black list of polluters will be ordered to suspend operations or reduce production to cut emissions during the meetings, Li Lixin, an air pollution treatment official with the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, told Xinhua on Tuesday.

The plan also includes mandatory construction site closures.

In the worst-case situation, neighboring Tianjin Municipality and Hebei Province will join in the emergency actions under a mechanism the three regions established to fight worsening air pollution last year, said Li.

Some steel mills in Hebei, China's largest steel producer, said they have received notice from authorities asking them to reduce or suspend production during the meetings to be held in early November.

Beijing has tightened air pollution controls this year with more severe punishment for violations.

The capital has handled 1,149 air pollution-related cases from January to September with total fines of more than 25.78 million yuan ($4.2 million), said Zhong Chonglei, chief of the Beijing Environmental Monitoring Team.

The number of cases has increased more than 74 percent and the fines have doubled, according to Zhong.

"Violators have to pay a much higher price than before," said Zhong.

Although air quality in the 13 most polluted cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region has reportedly improved in the first nine months compared to the same period last year, with levels of sulfur dioxide and PM2.5 dropping, worries over pollution remain following three days of smog beginning Oct 8 in Beijing.

Li said that air quality updates will be issued and sent to the public quickly if air quality worsens.

If the air quality index is expected to top 200 for three consecutive days, an orange alert, the second-highest in China's four-level warning system, will be issued, but the city will put into place pollution control measures usually called for under a red alert, the highest level.

Such measures include banning the use of 70 percent of government vehicles and restricting the use of private vehicles based on even- and odd-numbered license plates, among others.

Beijing has yet to issue a red alert for air pollution since the emergency plan was put into effect last November.

APEC, short for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, is a summit for leaders of its members to discuss economic development of the Asia-Pacific region.

The 21 APEC members, including the United States, China, Japan and Russia, account for over half of the world's economic output, 40 percent of the world's population, and 46 percent of the total global trade.

The APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting will be held in Beijing from Nov 10 to 11. During the APEC leaders' week, China will host a series of meetings, including the final senior officials' meeting from Nov 5 to 6, the 26th ministerial meeting from Nov 7 to 8, the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting from Nov 10 to 11, as well as the APEC business and leader spouses' events.

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