Nov 07, 2014 03:24 PM

Beijing Clears Streets and Closes Factories for APEC

(Beijing) – Neighboring provinces and cities near Beijing have issued driving bans and shuttered factories temporarily as part of major efforts to improve air quality during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings.

Beijing is playing host to the APEC conference which will run from November 5 to 11. China was last host country to the APEC summit in 2001, which took place in Shanghai.

To clear the streets of traffic and decrease air pollution, Beijing authorities have instituted temporary rules permitting cars on the road based on odd and even license plate numbers from November 3 to 12.

Trucks transporting mud, stone and chemicals, and heavy-emission vehicles are not permitted to drive on Beijing roads during the summit. Additionally, trucks, motorcycles, tractors and high-emission passenger cars cannot enter the sixth ring road and urban areas of Huairou District during the APEC period.

Zhangjiakou, a city northwest of Beijing in Hebei Province, was the first of several municipal areas to take on the odd-and-even-license plate rules to restrict vehicles on roads from November 1 to 13. Traffic police there are ordering heavy emission vehicles driving into Beijing to return or make a detour.

Other cities around Beijing in Hebei, such as Cangzhou, Baoding and Tangshan, have also implemented the rules. However, these areas have not specified the duration of the measures.

Along with the traffic ban, local governments of Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong provinces, as well as Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, have ordered companies, such as cement factories, iron and steel mills and coking plants, to stop or limit production during the APEC period.

Around 1,000 factories in Hebei Province have been ordered to stop production temporarily and 881 construction sites have been closed for the meetings. Local governments have sent supervisors to monitor the factories and sites. The use of satellites and drones are also being deployed for enforcement purposes.

Despite the large-scale measures to battle poor air quality, Beijing and neighboring areas have still suffered from moderate smog, said Wang Zihua, deputy director of the disaster relief department at the China Meteorological Administration.

The economic cost of the conference is expected to impact China's largest online shopping day, known as "Singles Day," which falls on November 11. Traffic restrictions and factory limits could mean major delays in deliveries, said Liu Jun, deputy director of the State Post Bureau.

Other experts have aired criticism over the temporary air quality measures for the APEC meetings. The policies fail to address pollution control at the source, said Zhao Liang, an environmental activist with the Future Green Youth Leadership Council. A mechanism should be set up to control pollution so the government can meet its smog reduction targets.

(Rewritten by Guo Kai)

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