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China's efforts to reduce sand-dust weather effective
Published on: 2010-08-09
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China's campaign to reduce sand-dust weather in its capital Beijing and neighboring Tianjin has proved effective and improved air quality, a government official said.

"The project to control the sources of the sand-dust weather has gained notable success since it was launched 10 years ago," Du Ying, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner, told a conference in Shanxi Province.

Du said the project starting in 2000 had much improved air quality in Beijing with 3 to 5 times of sand-dust weather per year after 2007, compared with more than 10 times of such weather in 2000.

Beijing is one of the places in the country hit by frequent sandstorms in March and April because of desertification in China's northern and northwestern regions. During a single sandstorm in April 2006, at least 300,000 tonnes of sand poured down on Beijing.

However, the situation has been improving through intensified environmental protection efforts, including forestation projects in northern and northwestern China.

Till now, the Chinese government has put 41.2 billion yuan (6.09 billion U.S. dollars) into such projects, which has helped increase forest cover by 90.02 million mu (6 million hectares) and expand grassland by 130 million mu, Du added.

Xia Zhanyi, vice mayor of Beijing, said the city saw 285 days of air quality achieving level II, or fairly good, in 2009, the most in a decade, an increase of 110 days from 2000.

However, Zhu Lieke, deputy head of the State Forestry Administration, said the task of controlling sand was still an arduous and long-term one with 540,000 square kilometers of desertified land yet to be treated.

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