A choking city's road to reform

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, November 26, 2013
Adjust font size:

Zhou Fanguo is a veteran steel plant worker in the northern port city of Tangshan, but he's thinking of becoming a truck driver in the future.

Zhou, 43, is preparing to learn a new skill, as the steel production line he has worked on for 15 years is facing closure.

Tangjia Iron and Steel Company, a private company with an annual production capacity of 1 million tons, is among 308 pollutant-discharge companies designated by the Tangshan municipal government to be shut down or reduce capacity due to failing to meet environmental standards.

Two out of the company's five production lines have been ordered to be shut down by the end of this year. Zhou's production line was targeted, and he is very likely to be laid off.

Tangshan, only 200 kilometers from Beijing, gained notoriety this year after earning a place on a list of top 10 most polluted Chinese cities for nine consecutive months, beating out all other cities in March, June and July, according to statistics from the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

The dishonorable title has upset the municipal government, and the city is now determined to control the pollution and transform its industrial structure, which has relied highly on steel, cement and coke production in past decades.

Tangshan plans to reduce the density of PM 2.5, a key indicator of air pollution, by about 33 percent from 2012 levels by the year 2017. It also plans to cut iron production capacity by 28 million tons and steel production capacity by 40 million tons, also by 2017.

The ensuing loss of tax revenues due to the capacity reduction could be as high as 37 billion yuan (6.03 billion U.S. dollars) in coming years, said Jiang Deguo, secretary of the Communist Party of China Tangshan municipal committee.

"We need to speed up the economic transformation and create new growth points to ensure the stable and healthy development of the economy and society," he said.

"If we only do 'subtraction' and don't do 'addition,' the economy will be stalled and society will lose its foundation of stability," he added.

Further development of industries that consume steel and the promotion of high-tech, advanced equipment manufacturing and energy-saving industries have been regarded as "additions" that could offset the losses.

Economic restructuring will never be an easy task for the government, enterprises, or ordinary people like Zhou.

"The treatment of air pollution determines the life and death of Tangshan," said Jiang. "There will be pain in the process, but we have no way to turn back."

Growing GDP, falling income

With robust growth of heavy industry, Tangshan's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) exceeded 100 billion yuan in 2001 and increased fivefold to 500 billion yuan ten years later.

1   2   Next  

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter