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Shenyang Turns Greener, Cleaner

Mike Abdu never knew a city could change so abruptly.

Abdu, an Arab Australian, came to Shenyang for ear treatment one week ago. He brought a dozen cotton masks with him.

"I did some homework before I left for China. From the Internet, I learnt Shenyang is China's heavy industry base and its environment is not good, especially its air," he said.

"But it seems that either they made a mistake or I came to the wrong place," he said.

The answer may be neither.

Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, was a heavily polluted and smoggy city.

In 1988 it was identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the 10 most polluted cities in the world.

The city burnt about 11 million tons of coal a year. Sulfur dioxide and particulate pollution were especially severe.

There were hundreds of metallurgical, chemical, paper, automotive and other industrial plants in and around the city.

"In those days, you had to change your clothes every day as the air was full of dirt," said Cheng Ke, a native of Shenyang.

Since 2000, however, government efforts have produced startling results.

Statistics from Shenyang Environmental Protection Bureau show that public green areas have doubled in the last four years.

There were 45.3 square kilometers at the end of 2000 that increased to 89 square kilometers by the end of last year.

Shenyang has closed almost all heavy polluters, including iron and steel works and chemical factories located in the urban area.

"Our aim is to build Shenyang into one of the most beautiful garden cities in northeastern China," said Xing Kai, vice-mayor of Shenyang municipal government.

(China Daily June 22, 2004)

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