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China Says Can Ensure Good Air Quality During Olympics

China is able to ensure a good air quality during the Olympic Games, fulfilling its commitment made seven years ago for the Olympic bid, an official said on Tuesday.

The environment authorities in Beijing are keeping a close watch over major pollution indices everyday, including sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matters, said Zhang Lijun, deputy head of the State Environmental Protection Administration.

"Three indices have met national standards due to years of efforts, and we promise the index of particulate matters will also meet standards during the Olympics," he said at a press conference held on the sidelines of the annual session of parliament.

Beijing has input 120 billion yuan (US$16.9 billion) in improving the air quality in the past years, and the number of "blue sky" days, or days with fairly good air quality, increased to 246 last year from 100 in 1998, he said.

Meanwhile, Beijing's neighboring municipality Tianjin, the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong, and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region are lending a hand to the capital to attain anti-pollution goals, he said. Work in these areas includes closing major polluters, removing outmoded cabs and reconditioning gas stations to capture harmful chemicals.

Speaking of climate change at the press conference, Xie Zhenhua, vice minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission, pledged that China will take effective measures to control greenhouse gas emissions while developing economy.

"China is also willing to cooperate with the international communities to tackle climate change," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2008)

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