Beijing has finally reached the year's clean-air target.
Wednesday's crisp and clean weather was a blessing for the
city's air guardians. It marked the 227th day of good air quality,
Beijing's goal for 2004, according to Zhao Chengyi of the Municipal
Bureau of Environmental Protection.
Two months ago, the target seemed unattainable because winter
had started and coal-fired boilers were belching smoke to keep
Zhao said the hard-earned reward results from intensive
inspections of various pollution sources, as well as cooperative
weather that blew pollutants out of the city.
That air pollution that frequently envelopes Beijing in dingy
smog is a key concern for the city's decision makers and a hot
topic for local residents.
Some people are questioning whether a realistic measuring stick
was used to determine good air quality days.
They argued that some atmospheric monitoring stations are
located in places where the air quality is constantly good, such as
the remote outskirts and gardens with many trees. Since air quality
is measured as an average of the indices collected from various
stations, counting good air quality days is not truly
representative of actual conditions across the city.
But others said that Beijing's air quality has indeed improved
since it 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
(China Daily December 31, 2004)