Beijing continued to see improved air quality ahead of the Olympic Games, with the first quarter of 2008 recording the largest number of blue sky days for any of the corresponding periods of the past nine years.
A blue sky was seen on Monday when the city held the welcome ceremony for the Olympic flame and launch of the Olympic torch relay at Tian'anmen Square.
The Olympic host city recorded 67 blue sky days in the first quarter, 12 more than in the corresponding period last year, said Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau vice director Du Shaozhong.
"The days with blue skies increased from 100 to 246 annually over the past 10 years, with the level of pollutants dropping drastically," Du said. "Beijing is prepared in terms of air for the Olympic Games."
Beijing has spent more than 120 billion yuan (17.1 billion U.S. dollars) to contain air pollution since 1998. In the past two years, the city has expanded public transport, tested a temporary traffic ban and relocated polluting factories.
Its neighboring municipality, Tianjin, and nearby provinces of Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, are working with the capital to attain anti-pollution goals. These efforts include the closure of major pollution sources, getting obsolete taxis off the road and reconditioning gas stations to capture harmful chemicals.
(Xinhua News Agency, April 1, 2008)