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Pic Takl: Air pollution has made Beijing 'unliveable', says city's mayor

Pollution and smog in Beijing has made the capital city of China "unliveable", according to the mayor of the city, a report said Wednesday.

"To establish a first-tier, international, liveable and harmonious city, it is very important to establish a system of standards, and Beijing is currently doing this," Mayor Wang Anshun said last Friday, according to the China Youth Daily newspaper, which The Guardian cited in its report.

"At present, however, Beijing is not a liveable city," Wang said.

His observations came days before market research company, Euromonitor International, announced in its findings on the global tourism market in 2013 that tourism in Beijing declined by 10 percent from the year before because of pollution and a countrywide economic slowdown.

The company's top 100 city destination rankings, released Tuesday, placed Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok in the top three spots, in terms of internatiional tourist arrivals, followed by London and Paris. Beijing was ranked 34th.

The Beijing mayor said that the pollution was caused by the distribution of polluting factories in the city and skyrocketing ownership of motor vehicles.

He demanded that Beijing's polluting factories be shut down entirely rather than "irresponsibly relocate(d)" to the neighbouring areas of Hebei and Tianjin.

In 2014, Beijing authorities closed 392 companies for causing pollution and took 476,000 old vehicles off the road, Wang said.

In September 2013, China's cabinet introduced a sweeping anti-pollution plan, which included prohibiting the construction of new coal-fired power plants in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the country's three most important cities.

Yet 18 months on, the plan appears to be taking slow effect and Beijing still remains shrouded by smog on most days.

Authorities announced that in 2014, particulate matter 2.5 -- the pollutants most dangerous to human health -- dropped by 4 percent, falling just short of the government's 5 percent reduction target.

However, in spite of the choking pollution, according to the mayor, Beijing's biggest problem was population control. He claimed that the influx of migrant labour put strains on the city's infrastructure.

The city has 21.5 million residents and its population is growing at a rate of more than 350,000 a year.


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