Statutes of founding leaders of the Communist Party of China and leading economists were masked at the prestigious Peking University as a mark of protest against pollution. (Photo courtesy: China Foto Press)
China will "declare war" on pollution, Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday at the start of the annual meeting of parliament, with the government unveiling detailed measures to tackle what has become a hot-button social issue.
It is not uncommon for air pollution in parts of China to breach levels considered by some experts to be hazardous. That has drawn much public ire and is a worry for China's government, which fears any discontent that might compromise stability.
"We will resolutely declare war against pollution as we declared war against poverty," Li told the almost 3,000 delegates to the country's largely rubber-stamp legislature in a "state-of-the-union" address carried live on state television.
The battle against pollution will be waged via reforms in energy pricing to boost non-fossil fuel power and cutting capacity in the steel and cement sectors which are the sources of much air pollution.
But China does not just suffer from smog, which has once again this winter enveloped large parts of the country's heavily populated eastern flank.
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China also suffers badly from water and soil pollution. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's economic planner, said that it would also take action this year to tackle agricultural pollution, including the contamination of farmland by heavy metals.
Last month, the government said it would spend 2 trillion yuan, or $330 billion, on an action plan to tackle pollution of its scarce water resources.
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