China's Premier stresses need for 'forceful measures' to fight environmental pollution

A couple taking a picture of themselves in front of the Forbidden City through thick haze on the top of Jingshan Park in Beijing, March 3, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A couple taking a picture of themselves in front of the Forbidden City through thick haze on the top of Jingshan Park in Beijing, March 3, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

CHINESE Premier Li Keqiang has declared war on environmental pollution plaguing the country that has led to smoggy skies and toxic rivers, even as he stressed the need for "forceful measures to complete the challenging task" amid rising public frustration and anger.

"Smog is affecting larger parts of China and environmental pollution has become a major problem, which is nature's red light warning against the model of inefficient and blind development," he added at the opening of China's parliament today where he presented the government's work report.

Building a sound ecological environment is one of the nine major tasks that Beijing will work to tackle this year. Others include restructuring the economy, cutting red tape, developing high standard free trade areas and deepening financial reforms.

Mr Li listed a slate of measures to bring the devastation of China's environment caused by three decades of rapid-fire growth under control.

The prevention and control of air pollution through the reduction of PM10 and PM2.5, for instance, will be focused on mega cities and regions with frequent occurrence of smog, he said. The industrial structure in these areas will be improved, energy efficiency raised while vehicle exhaust emissions will also be reduced.

Moreover, 50,000 small coal-fired furnaces will also be shut down this year with exploration and use of natural gas and shale gas strengthened.

esthert@sph.com.sg

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