BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese authorities should not arbitrarily shut down firms that meet emission standards during environmental cleanup campaigns, Vice Premier Han Zheng said on Wednesday.
Beijing has made reducing pollution one of its highest national priorities, but the drive has been criticized as poorly planned at the local level, with across-the-board closures of industrial plants in some regions ensnaring even compliant companies.
Xinhua news agency quoted Han as saying that measures in the battle against pollution should be realistic and sustainable, though environmental protection policies should be strictly enforced to deter companies that violate the rules.
He was speaking at a meeting on a plan to tackle pollution in and around the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region during the winter, when smog often blankets northern China.
The Ministry of Ecology and Environment said in May that China would end a “one size fits all” approach to fighting pollution as it tries to devise more nuanced policies that match local conditions and minimize economic disruption.
A plan to switch millions of households and thousands of businesses from coal to natural gas in north China last winter backfired as severe gas shortages hit the region.
“Steadily promote clean winter heating in North China, and ensure people are safe and warm,” Han said.
(This version of the story was refiled to correct “The Ministry of Ecology and Environment” in paragraph 5, instead of “The Ministry of Environmental Protection”)
Reporting by Elias Glenn; editing by David Stamp