As Beijing wallows in the thick of China’s second-highest pollution rating, officials are launching a new offensive in the war on smog.
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The environment ministry says it plans to send more than 5,500 people on a year-long investigation to the country’s heavily polluted north, tracking down major offenders in 28 cities and making sure they tow the line in a region notorious for turning a blind eye to the rules.
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Northern China, including the capital Beijing, is a frontline in the government’s battle against pollution. But despite improvements last year, the air got a lot worse in the first two months of 2017.
15 other provinces and regions are now also being targeted, in a new round of checks that include the city of Shanghai in the east and Hainan island in the south.
The first round of inspections kicked off last year in big coal-producing regions like Inner Mongolia, where some air quality progress has been made.
But it’s not just the air that’s a problem. Chinese rivers have also become increasingly toxic, as pollution continues to leech from the soil into the water supply.