SHANGHAI Dec 26 The heavily polluted northern
Chinese province of Hebei, which surrounds the capital Beijing,
said it will learn lessons from the smog that engulfed the
region last week and step up efforts to clean the air.
Hebei, home of seven of China's 10 smoggiest cities last
year, has declared 2017 to be the "year of transformation and
upgrading", the province said on its official website on
China has repeatedly vowed to curb pollution of its air,
soil and water caused by more than three decades of economic
growth. Beijing frequently features near the top of the list of
China's most polluted cities.
In the Hebei capital of Shijiazhuang, average concentrations
of small breathable particles known as PM2.5 were higher than
500 micrograms per cubic metre for three consecutive days last
week - 50 times higher than World Health Organization
In the province's first official response to last week's
smog outbreak, governor Zhang Qingwei said Hebei would work to
improve "levels of scientific precision" when it came to
Hebei has been on the front line of China's nearly
three-year "war on pollution", but experts say enforcement has
remained lax amid lingering concerns about the impact that smog
controls have on economic growth and jobs.
Eight cities in Hebei launched "red alerts" last week in
response to the smog, which reached record levels at some
monitoring stations in the province, but it quickly came under
fire from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, with a
number of its steel firms singled out for failing to suspend
Zhang, in comments published on Monday, said better
"top-level planning" was required as Hebei sought to adjust its
industrial and energy structures.
Hebei would also draw up more detailed plans to deal with
issues like the direct combustion of coal, a major source of
smog, the provincial government said on its official website (www.hebei.gov.cn).
The province aimed to cut PM2.5 concentrations to an average
of around 67 micrograms per cubic meter this year, down from 77
micrograms in 2015, but officials have warned that the latest
outbreak could make China's pollution targets difficult to
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Nick Macfie)