Bai Keming, Party secretary of Hebei Province, has promised that every effort
will be made to keep the areas surrounding Beijing pollution-free
during next year's Olympics.
"During the 2008 Olympic Games, blue skies are a requirement not
only for Beijing, but also for the places around it," Bai said
yesterday in an exclusive interview with China Daily at the
ongoing annual session of the National People's
He said that to ensure a "clean" Olympics, some temporary
measures will have to be introduced, such as halting the production
of those companies that are known to cause pollution.
"Right now, there is no specific plan, but to ensure the smooth
running of the Olympics some sacrifices have to be made," Bai
One measure that has already been taken is the relocation of
national steel manufacturer Beijing Shougang Group, which is
currently in the process of moving its operations from the capital
to the tiny island of Caofeidian, some 80 kilometers south of
Tangshan in Hebei Province.
Responding to concerns that the move was simply shifting the
pollution problem, Bai said the new company is a joint venture with
a local steel firm and that it would operate to high environmental
"The new company is based on the concept of a modern circular
economy," said Bai.
"And it will create much less pollution than it did in
He said the operations of the new company would comply with
strict international standards, which require such measures as the
recycling of slag, the use of desalinated water in furnaces and the
re-use of emitted gases for steel rolling.
"Even if we were not hosting the Olympics, we would still carry
out these policies to save energy and reduce pollution for the
long-term benefit and development of Hebei," Bai said.
Although Hebei failed to reach its target of cutting energy
consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by about 4
percent last year, it did manage to reduce the discharge of major
pollutants by almost 2 percent.
"We have already phased out several smaller companies that were
generating pollution and have gathered together a number of others
so that we can apply tighter controls," Bai said. "We are
determined to continue with our environmental protection
(China Daily March 13, 2007)