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China’s premier pledges to tackle pollution

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged yesterday that his government would “show even greater resolve” in tackling China’s festering pollution crisis, a source of increasing public fury.

Li’s remarks at his debut press conference as premier were the highest-level public comments on the problem to date, though he gave few specifics about how the Government planned to address the environmental effects of rapid economic growth.

Street-level anger over the air pollution that blanketed many northern cities this winter has spilled over into online appeals for Beijing to clean water supplies as well.

The rotting corpses of more than 12,000 pigs found this month in a river that supplies tap water to Shanghai drew even more attention to water safety. Li said he encouraged increased public participation in cleaning China’s water, soil and air.

“This government will show even greater resolve and take more vigorous efforts to clean up such pollution,” Li said, referring to the winter smog.

Air quality in Beijing has mostly stayed above “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” levels since the beginning of this year.

Yesterday, it hit 286 on an index maintained by the US Embassy in Beijing, which described the pollution as “very unhealthy”.

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