01/14/2013, 00.00
CHINA
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Beijing's record-breaking pollution levels

According to WHO guidelines, PM2.5average concentrations should be no more than 25 microgrammes per cubic metre. Above 100 microgrammes, air is unhealthy. Official Beijing city readings on Saturday suggested pollution levels over 400. Unofficial reading from a monitor at the US Embassy recorded 800. Anger mounts in official media as well.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Communist China's attempts to go green are proving fruitless. Despite government warnings and suggestions, already high pollution levels in some Chinese cities keep on rising, especially in Beijing. Increasingly, residents of the affected cities are unwilling to put up with the situation and are voicing their views online, with echoes in state media. The figures speak for themselves.

World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines say average concentrations of the tiniest pollution particles, called PM2.5, should be no more than 25 microgrammes per cubic metre.

Air is unhealthy above 100 microgrammes. At 300, all children and elderly people should remain indoors.

Official Beijing city readings on Saturday suggested pollution levels over 400. An unofficial reading from a monitor at the US Embassy recorded 800.

And talking about air quality is now no longer taboo. The Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily, said today that to flourish China people must be able to breathe clean air.

The China Daily agrees. "In the middle of a rapid urbanisation process, it is urgent for China to think about how such a process can press forward without compromising the quality of urban life with an increasingly worse living environment," it said in an editorial.

For the Global Times, if things continue as they are, there will be long-term damages. Despite measures to counter the emergency, pollution in China is getting worse.

For its part, state-run CCTV continues to advise people not to use bicycles in the capital because of limited visibility.

The world's second largest economy and first car market is unable to control pollution, largely because it has focused on economic growth.

In order to boost the GDP, the authorities have built a very polluting industrial sector and favoured the growth of road and air travel at the expense of the environment.

At the same time, more than 70 per cent of China's energy needs are met by coal, which is very polluting, within a legislative framework that lacks proper enforcement mechanisms.

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