China Welcomes 2017 With Thick, Toxic Smog Closing Cities

By Ana Verayo, | January 06, 2017

The second highest pollution alert was issued in Beijing this week, and it expected to last for five days. (YouTube)

The second highest pollution alert was issued in Beijing this week, and it expected to last for five days. (YouTube)

China welcomed 2017 with a recurring thick, toxic smog enshrouding Beijing and other major cities in central and northern regions of the country. Authorities were forced to cancel flights and highways due to poor visibility.

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On Monday, air pollution readings exceeded 400 in Hebei province. 

In Hebei capital Shijiazhuang, express ways were closed off, and more than half a dozen cities were temporarily closed, according to the province's traffic police official website. Meanwhile, in the city of Zhengshou in central China, students from kindergarten to high school were ordered to stay home on Tuesday due to this toxic smog.

Local authorities have dispatched inspection teams to investigate mega-factories, according to local state media.

China is known to have one of the worst air pollution in the world. Factory production and reliance on cheap coal for energy including a surplus of older transport vehicles are to blame for this economic giant.

How hazardous is China's smog? According to the Max Planck Institute in Germany, this smog leads to 1.4 million premature deaths every year in the country. 

 On Thursday, China announced its plans to cut major air pollution and sulfur dioxide sources. The government also said it would push further for more public transportation in major cities.

Sulfur dioxide is the major contributor to China's crippling smog and air pollution. China's State Council plans to cut emissions by 15 percent by 2020.

In a new five-page plan released by the Chinese cabinet, China will also raise public transport by 30 percent by 2020 to promote greener, more efficient public vehicles.

This is the third year that the second largest economy in the world is waging a "war on pollution."

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