A new bout of air pollution is due to hit Beijing and other parts of north China today. The Ministry of Environmental Protection on Saturday issued an air quality forecast that more than 18 cities in northern China will suffer heavy pollution until at least Wednesday. Air pollution here to stay unless the economy is rebalanced Besides the capital, other cities to be affected include nearby Tianjin, and Shijiazhuang, Langfang and Baoding in neighbouring Hebei province. Shanxi, Shandong and Henan provinces will also be affected. All the regions will be hit the hardest today when the pollution is most serious. The latest pollution is caused by “unfavourable meteorological conditions for the dispersion of air pollution”, the ministry said. Air pollution is usually the most serious during winter in China. Pollution levels can usually build up due to a lack of wind to disperse the pollution. The pollution is expected to ease by Wednesday when a cold front will help disperse the pollutants, the ministry added. However, the relief with be short-lived with yet more smog returning on Friday until the end of the week on March 5, when the annual session of the National People’s Congress opens. To combat air pollution, authorities have ordered factories to cut output and have sent inspectors to heavy manufacturing centres to monitor environmental measures taken by factories. China firing blanks in ‘war on pollution’ as smog worsens Such efforts have proven to be challenging. Last week, the ministry of environmental protection criticised several cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and neighbouring areas, including Cangzhou and Baoding, for failing to comply with government regulations in stop production on heavily polluted days. Chen Jining, the minister of environmental protection, held a meeting on Thursday to discuss measures to be taken in the coming days. He pledged to issue timely pollution alerts and to tighten inspections to find factories that failed to comply with environmental regulations. China has a four-tier colour-coded air pollution warning system, starting with blue, the least serious, and rising through yellow, orange and red.