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China dispatches teams of inspectors amid smog

Officials put restrictions on driving, bans barbecues

APTOPIX-China-Pollution-2-23

A man pushes a bike onto a bridge during a day of heavy pollution in Harbin in northeast China's Heilongjiang province. China’s environment ministry said Sunday that it had sent inspectors to Beijing and other areas of the country to inspect polluting industries and check construction sites amid a spell of severe air pollution.

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BEIJING — China’s environment ministry said Sunday that it had sent inspectors to Beijing and other areas of the country to inspect polluting industries and check construction sites amid a spell of severe air pollution.

Twelve teams will inspect factories, including those producing steel, coal, glass, and cement, in Beijing, nearby Tianjin, and neighboring Hebei province, as well as their surrounding areas, the ministry said.

The teams will review the local governments’ responses to the bad air over the last few days, it said. Any violations would be publicized.

The government is eager to bring about a visible improvement in China’s bad air, which has caused discontent among its citizens and tarnished the country’s image.

While polluting industries have emissions standards, they are not often enforced.

Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, on Sunday ordered 20 percent of private vehicles off the roads in urban areas based on license plate numbers, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

On Friday, Beijing raised its pollution alert to the second-highest level for the first time, which meant some manufacturing plants had to suspend or reduce production, and that demolition work, barbecues, and fireworks were banned.

The alert was still in place Sunday. Trucks were spraying Beijing’s roads as part of an increase in road cleaning.

Xinhua said that almost all provinces in central and east China have had serious air pollution since Friday, and that Beijing and five provinces in northern and eastern China had reported “severe smog.”

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