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China Daily Website

Improving air quality demands own efforts

Updated: 2012-06-13 18:09
By Zhao Shengnan (

Improving air quality should not rely on foreign embassies but China's own efforts, Deputy Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said.

Cui made the remarks as a response to the disputes between Beijing and foreign embassies' monitoring and issuing of air quality data in China for PM2.5, which shows the amount of air particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter.

"Of course we all care about air quality, and it's absolutely necessary to monitor it, but what's more important is to improve it," Cui told Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV. "That's the reason why China is committed to sustainable development as well as building an environmental friendly and recourse-saving society."

"Fundamentally, the improvement relies on our  own efforts, while it is beyond foreign embassies' capability and willingness."

The top environmental official said recently that it is technically inaccurate and goes against international conventions and Chinese laws for foreign embassies or consulates in China - specifically the US Embassy in Beijing and the US Consulate General in Shanghai - to monitor local air quality and publish the results online.

The US embassy issues hourly air quality readings on its micro blog and its consulate in Shanghai has also been releasing PM2.5 levels since last month. The data are often inconsistent with those from Chinese authorities.

If they really care about the improvement of Chinese air conditions, foreign embassies should clarify the pollution from car exhaust when marketing their cars to China, Cui said.

"Car exhaust is a major source of air pollution, while foreign delegations in China spare no effort to sell cars to Chinese," said Cui, urging the delegations to inform Chinese that the exhaust from cars they sell is as unhealthy as smoking.

Early this year Beijing began reporting PM2.5. The Ministry of Environmental Protection has ordered 74 cities to apply a more comprehensive air quality monitoring standard and publish daily reports on PM2.5 by the end of this year.