07/18/2015, 00.00
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Beijing closes or relocates 185 companies in its war on pollution

This is first result for the first half of this year. The ultimate goal is to move or shut down at least 300 polluting plants by the end for the year as the authorities continue relocating “noncore functions” outside of the city. However, 75 per cent of China’s biggest cities have failed so far to meet environmental standards.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – City officials in Beijing announced that 185 factories and companies have been closed or relocated in the first six months of 2015 as part of an effort to curb pollution in the Chinese capital.

Before the end of the year, Beijing authorities plan to shut down or move up to 300 highly polluters as part of the mainland’s “war on pollution.”

City officials met on Friday to discuss the local economic impact of moving factories away from the city and to discuss how to continue the efforts to improve the city’s environment.

With this in mind, the Beijing Municipality plans to continue relocating “noncore functions” from the city to the neighbouring municipality of Tianjin or other cities in nearby Hebei province.

Local officials said that 60 low-end wholesale markets have also been shut down in the city to curb traffic congestion and air pollution. An additional 8,500 booths at various wholesale markets will be moved by year's end. Yet, environmental standards continue to be disregarded across the country.

Earlier this week for example, some reports indicate that in June almost 75 per cent of China’s biggest cities – 55 out of 74 – had not met Ministry of Environmental Protection standards. That is a marginal improvement over last year, when nearly 90 per cent had failed to meet air-quality standards.

The situation is such that, for ordinary Chinese, pollution remains the country’s top priority. However, for many companies fines are less expensive than introducing cleaner technologies as required by law.

On 9 June, Environment Minister Jining Chen said that China’s environment has reached its limit due pollution-related damages, and that the government planned more effective measures for the next five years.

This is very important. As former Health Minister Chen Zhu said in an article published by The Lancet medical journal last year, environmental pollution causes between 350,000 and 500,000 premature deaths per year in China.

What is more, this might be a very conservative figure. A study published by the same journal earlier noted that in 2010 alone air pollution killed up to 1.2 million people.

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