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Ministry right to turn up the heat on local government | Updated: 2017-12-17 19:37

Over the past couple of days, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has sent out 839 groups on fact finding missions to determine how heating is supplied in Beijing, Tianjin and 26 cities around the two municipalities.

They will check whether heating has been supplied to all residents, whether those boilers using natural gas as fuel have been supplied with gas in a timely manner, whether those households using electricity to heat their homes enjoy discounted electricity and whether the supply of coal has been guaranteed for those households which still have to burn coal for heating.

Local governments will be urged to do whatever they can to mend their ways if heating is found not to be supplied as it should.

The inspections are more than necessary as the temperature has dropped dramatically in most parts of the country, northern China in particular, and some local governments have carried out the clean energy program to substitute natural gas for coal too hastily. As a result, some coal-burning boilers and coal-burning stoves in some villagers’ homes have been demolished before natural gas has been supplied.

It is definitely environmentally friendly to substitute natural gas for fossil fuel, the burning of which has proved to be an important source of air pollution in winter. However, the program must be carried out in an orderly manner. Local governments must see to it that local residents have heating throughout the winter.

There is no reason for local leaders to shelf central government policies, but neither should they turn a blind eye to any negative effects the improper implementation of the policies may have.

President Xi Jinping once said that governing a big country is like cooking a dish, meaning what seasonings are used and how much, as well as how long it takes to cook the dish makes a great difference to the final dish. The same is true when carrying out a policy. Often times, it is not the policy that is problematic, rather it is the way the policy is carried out. Just like cooking a fish, no matter how good the preparation, care must be taken in the cooking to ensure it turns out right.

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