Beijing achieves target of 227 clean days
Beijing has finally reached the year's clean air target.
Wednesday's crisp and clean weather was a blessing to the city's air guardians. It marked the 227th day with good air quality, said Zhao Chengyi, an official with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection. That was the target set for 2004.
Two months ago when there were still some 40 days to go, the target seemed unattainable because winter had started and coal-fired boilers were belching smoke every day to keep homes warm.
Zhao said the hard-earned reward is owed to intensive inspections on various pollution sources, as well as co-operative weather that blew away pollutants out of the city.
Air pollution, which sometimes envelops Beijing in smog, is a key concern for the city's decision makers and a hot topic for local residents.
Some people questioned whether measuring good air quality days was a realistic measuring stick.
They argued that some atmospheric monitor stations were located in places where the air quality is constantly good, such as remote outskirts and gardens with many trees. The argument was that since air quality is measured as an average of the indices collected from various monitoring stations, counting good air quality days is not truly representative of actual atmospheric conditions across the city.
But others said the city's air quality has indeed improved since the city set annual targets for the number of clean days.
"The most impressive point to me is that when I took photos in the late 1990s, the pictures looked like they were covered by a thick layer of dust. But now, the trees are greener and the sky is bluer," said Lu Peihong, a Beijing resident living in Haidian District.
Regardless of the arguments, the local government has indeed made some breakthroughs in fighting against air pollution.