China's Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei to set up anti-pollution body: Report

Smokes billow out of chimneys at a chemical plant in north China's Tianjin municipality.
Smokes billow out of chimneys at a chemical plant in north China's Tianjin municipality.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The smog-prone northern Chinese region of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei will set up a joint environmental protection agency in an effort to coordinate the region's war on pollution, the official China Securities Journal reported on Wednesday (Nov 1).

The new agency, part of wider efforts to improve cross-regional environmental governance, will be in place by the end of the year, the paper said, citing Ministry of Environmental Protection officials.

The region, also known as Jing-Jin-Ji, was home to eight of China's 10 smoggiest cities in September and is involved in a winter campaign that will slash industrial output and restrict traffic in a bid to meet air quality targets.

Creating unified environmental standards across the region was a key element of a regional economic integration plan launched by President Xi Jinping in 2014.

According to academic studies, around a third of the smog drifting across the capital, Beijing, originates in neighbouring Hebei, China's biggest steel-producing region and also a major producer of cement.

Regulators have already promised to establish a unified system of environmental governance that will create cross-regional emission standards and prevent non-compliant firms in Beijing from shifting operations to neighbouring Hebei.

They have also vowed to implement coordinated emergency response plans during heavy smog outbreaks.