Blue skies ready to greet APEC

Updated: 2014-11-04 01:52

By ZHENG JINRAN(China Daily)

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Blue skies ready to greet APEC

Shuttle buses are ready to serve the AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation meetings in the Huairou district of Beijing on Monday. ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

With better air quality and a shorter rush hour, everything seems good so far in Beijing as the capital prepares to host the APEC meeting.

"It felt so good to see the clear sky and breathe fresh air when I was sitting in the bus in the morning rush hour," said Shi Chao, a 28-year-old who commutes about 50 kilometers every day.

The smooth traffic on the North Third Ring Road, which usually experiences traffic jams, greatly lightened his mood, he said.

"As APEC approaches, my colleagues and I have felt the improvement in the environment and traffic," he said, recalling his occasional coughs in October smog.

In Beijing, the air quality index was only 26 at 3 pm on Monday, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. It sometimes surpasses 400.

The capital's air pollution has drawn increasing attention from the world, especially after 30,000 participants ran the marathon in the haze of Beijing on Oct 19.

To control air pollution while hosting the APEC meetings, Beijing has released a series of policies, including keeping half of private vehicles off the road every day based on their license plate numbers and suspending work at all construction sites in the capital.

Along with the control of industrial production, the efforts are expected to cut the emission of pollutants by 30 percent during the meetings in Beijing, said Chai Hefa, deputy head at the China Research Academy of Environmental Sciences.

"We will pay a price since these measures will affect usual social and business activities, but it's worthwhile," Chai said.

To prepare for the coming APEC meetings, which kick off on Wednesday, Beijing will continue to keep a strict rein on emissions in coordination with neighboring provinces through frequent inspections and tough punishment. The Ministry of Environmental Protection has 16 teams covering Beijing and Tianjin municipalities, as well as Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, Henan and Shandong provinces.

Hebei province plans to shut down or suspend production at 2,386 companies and forbid work at 2,445 construction sites.

The restrictions will last until the end of the APEC meetings on Nov 12.