China's anti-smog drive

Added On March 11, 2014

In China, this winter has seen more and more cities choked in smog, sounding alarm over the environmental issue brought by the three decades of rapid growth.
Environmental issues have become a big concern for the Chinese public. And are high on the agenda of China's on-going parliamentary and political advisory sessions.
Since early this year, China has been under growing pressure to address the causes of air pollution after heavy smog affected more than 1 million square kilometers in east China.
SOUNDBITE(CHINESE): Beijing resident 
"The week-long smog was a huge inconvenience for us, as the poor air forced me to stay indoor if unnecessary."
SOUNDBITE(CHINESE): Langfang resident 
"I've begun to wear a mask recently due to the poor air quality. Yes, the smog has influenced my daily life, as the polluted air may damage our respiration systems."
SOUNDBITE(CHINESE): Henan resident 
"I think the haze smells like smoke, and it hurts my throat."
SOUNDBITE(CHINESE): Langfang resident 
"The heavy smog here has cuased lots of crashes. It's dangerous for us to ride motorbikes here for we cannot see clearly what's one or two hundred meters ahead."
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): GIBBY,  Beijing resident 
"It's particularly uncomfortable. I've got a bit of a sore throat now. I'm coughing a little more than I have done before. You can almost taste the smog when you go outside."
Official data show that 2013 had the most smoggy days of any year in the past 52 years.
Since the beginning of December, at least 25 regions and provinces have reported high pollution levels, particularly of PM2.5, which are tiny floating particles measuring 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter.
PM2.5 particles are especially hazardous as they can settle in lungs and cause respiratory problems among other illnesses.
In Beijing, only five days were free of hazardous weather in January, with repeatedly higher-than-normal readings of PM2.5.
Most recently, a thick blanket of haze covered Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei Province from February 20 to 26.
China's top decision makers say they're aware of the enormous problem and a new way must be found out to properly balance the economic growth and environmental protection.
Actions to tackle air pollution are top concerns of many lawmakers and political advisors who are convening in Beijing.
SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) ZHANG LIKUN, Deputy, Beijng Municipal People's Congress:
"During the session, we've discussed extensively a limit on car purchases, traffic controls and relocation of pollutant enterprises. I think the regulations represent the wishes of both the people at the grassroots and experts."
SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) PAN SHIYI, Deputy, Beijng Municipal People's Congress:
"The air is different from the land. Land has its city or province boundaries, but the air does not. Beijing has taken the lead in issuing these rules. I hope a nationwide law will be issued soon. This is the solution to air pollution."
"Pollution is the price we pay for economy progress. London and Los Angles also had similar problem before. When they had air pollution, the two cities did not pay enough attention to solve this problem, but were busy making money. Later, they found that the money they had made was not enough to fix the environment."
In response, the government has been on the move.
A 284-billion-U.S.-dollar plan was sanctioned by the Chinese government las