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    A woman wearing a mask for protection against air pollution walks on a pedestrian overhead bridge in Beijing as the capital of China is shrouded by heavy smog on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016

    China Going to 'Make Skies Blue Again'

    © AP Photo/ Andy Wong
    Asia & Pacific
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    China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection announced the start of intensified air pollution monitoring program in 28 cities, expected to be in force for one year, local media reported on Thursday.

    BEIJING (Sputnik) — According to the China Daily newspaper, some 5,600 government officials will be involved in the program, making it the most large-scale environmental protection program.

    The ministry also released information of several companies concealing and falsifying data regarding pollutants, the media said, adding that severe violations were exposed in Beijing and Tianjin, as well as in several neighboring provinces.

    On February 15, the ministry started environmental inspection of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, with over 260 inspectors examining thousands of government departments and companies.

    In March, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the government would undertake a number of measures to combat air pollution in 2017 and would "make skies blue again," cutting the emission of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide by 3 percent and lowering the density of PM2.5. The measures include reducing coal use and car emissions, upgrading coal-fired power plants, encouraging the use of clean-energy vehicles and punishing government officials who ignore environmental guidelines or air pollution regulations in their designated areas.

    According to a survey conducted by the University of California, a total of 1.6 million people in China die annually from diseases caused by air pollution, which means some 4,000 deaths per day.

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