Beijing promises to tackle smog
Beijing promises to tackle smog

CHINA is falling short of its people’s expectations in battling smog, Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) said, one week after authorities blocked a scathing documentary on the country’s air pollution problem.

“The Chinese government is determined to tackle smog and pollution,” Li said. “We will continue to track down and pursue polluting companies. Environmental authorities must not suffer interference from industry, and should be brave enough to take on responsibility.”

The issue has become a major source of popular discontent with the Communist Party, leading the government to vow to reduce the proportion of energy derived from fossil fuels.

Last month, former state media journalist Chai Jing (柴靜) released a hard-hitting independent documentary, Under the Dome (《穹頂之下》), on the air-pollution problem.

China’s environmental protection minister, Chen Jining (陳吉寧), praised the video, saying it should encourage efforts by individuals to improve air quality. But days later the documentary was taken down from mainstream video sites.

Meanwhile, Li said that Beijing has more weapons in its arsenal to boost the world’s second-largest economy as he sought to ease concerns about flagging growth.

Authorities have so far avoided big-ticket incentives to bolster growth, including the unprecedented 4 trillion yuan (HK$4.96 trillion) stimulus package Beijing deployed at the height of the global financial crisis. But Li signalled at his annual press conference that more measures could be taken.

(AFP, 15 March 2015)