Beijing gets tough on pollution as Apec leaders' meeting approaches
Authorities want assurances that areas near meeting venues will be in top shape, but play down concerns about air pollution
Beijing authorities have questioned 30 people, including several town and village heads, over environmental issues in areas under their charge, in preparation for an Apec leaders' meeting in November.
Officials in suburban Huairou district, where this year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting will be held, have pledged to crack down on factories that contribute to pollution during the event, The Beijing News reported.
The authorities are seeking to downplay concerns about Beijing's choking air pollution that are likely be raised during the meeting, which will be attended by many heads of state from the group's 21 member economies.
The 30 people questioned included village or town heads and construction project leaders who fared the worst in environmental assessments, said Du Lianming, a deputy-secretary of the district's commission for discipline inspection. Those questioned included three government administrative staff, he added.
Du said officials would carry out undercover inspections to ensure that the towns, villages and government departments were doing their jobs to protect the environment.
The inspections would cover polluting factories, illegal outdoor barbecue pits and coal-fired boilers.
Critics have said that to host the Apec leaders' meeting, Beijing would have to adopt temporary pollution-control measures similar to those taken before and during the 2008 Olympic Games, such as closing factories and cutting vehicle use by half.
But the authorities have tried to downplay environmental concerns by highlighting their green efforts, in particular the construction of an eco-friendly complex near Yanqi Lake, a scenic spot about 50km from the city centre.
The complex will include a convention centre, a hotel and 12 VIP villas. It will use clean energy and treat waste water, Foreign Affairs Office director general Zhao Huimin said earlier.
Premier Li Keqiang has declared war on pollution in an attempt to head off growing anger over the quality of China's air, water and soil.