Date
16 January 2017
Beijing is among the cities where air quality has improved from last year, according to the Chinese government. Photo: Reuters
Beijing is among the cities where air quality has improved from last year, according to the Chinese government. Photo: Reuters

China says urban air quality improved in first half

Air quality in China’s largest cities continued to improve in the first half of this year, the nation’s environment ministry said on Sunday.

China’s largest 338 cities enjoyed more clean air days in the first six months of 2016 compared with the same period last year, the ministry said on its website, Reuters reported.

According to the statement, 76.7 percent of days in the six months to June had clean air, an increase of four percentage points from a year earlier.

In Beijing city, levels of PM 2.5 were said to have fallen 17.9 percent from a year earlier.

The ministry did not provide reasons for the improvement in air quality, but it follows increased measures to crack down on polluters and coal use, as well as efforts to tackle overcapacity in the heavily polluting steel sector, Reuters noted.

A slowdown in economic growth has also likely contributed.

Of the country’s 10 most polluted cities in the first half, six were in the industrial northern province of Hebei, down from seven at the end of 2015.

At the end of last year, the government launched a two-month probe of the province, one of the country’s most polluted regions.

The investigation revealed that firms had engaged in “fraudulent activities” and were flouting orders against expansion of industrial capacity.

Earlier this month, the environment ministry announced that it had fined several state-owned polluters, including a subsidiary of PetroChina, for exceeding emission limits. 

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