Northern Chinese cities required to reduce steel production as NPC and CPPCC sessions loom

An employee works at a steel factory in Dalian, Liaoning Province, China, June 27, 2016. Photo: Reuters

China has launched a wide-ranging policy to cut steel production capacity in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and its surrounding areas ahead of the country's annual sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), domestic media reported on Wednesday.

According to the policy which was jointly issued late February by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), three other government agencies and the governments of Beijing, Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong and Henan, the major smog-stricken cities including Shijiazhuang, Tangshan and Handan in Hebei province are required to cut steel production capacity by 50 percent during the heating season and to reduce coal consumption.

The policy also required Tianjin port, one of China's busiest ports, to stop disposing coal transportation by trucks.

Officials from the MEP will launch field investigations into the operations of the steel plants, coking plants, power plants and cement plants in the city of Tangshan to make sure the policy is being implemented, after some steel plants of the city received a circular ordering them to suspend production between March 1 and March 15, the Shanghai Securities News reported.

Chen Jining, the minister of the MEP, said that the policy sets a higher air quality improvement target for 2017, which requires stricter air pollution control measures.

Heavy air pollution is expected to be alleviated in 3-5 years, though it will take a long time to solve air pollution problems, He Hong, a scientist of the Chinese Academy of Science, said.

The Chinese government has been imposing temporary bans on production at steel plants in the past. Before the G20 summit held last year, the host city Hangzhou released plans to restrict air pollution to ensure blue skies during the summit.

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