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Published: Thursday April 10, 2014 MYT 12:11:28 PM
Updated: Thursday April 10, 2014 MYT 12:13:12 PM

Beijing eyes smog controls ahead of APEC meeting

People wearing masks walk past a statue of late Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

People wearing masks walk past a statue of late Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

BEIJING (Reuters) - China may revive 2008 Beijing Olympics-style air pollution controls when it holds a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders in the often smog-shrouded capital in November, state media said on Thursday.

Officials are mulling traffic curbs based on license plate numbers to cut emissions and the closure of plants and construction sites during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting, which draws many heads of state from the group's 21 member economies.

The plan is reminiscent of emergency measures implemented with mixed results to tame Beijing's chronic pollution when the city was on the world stage ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

During the APEC meeting, officials would work with the local governments in the nearby city of Tianjin and surrounding Hebei province to combat smog, Zhuang Zhidong, deputy head of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, was cited by the English-language China Daily newspaper as saying.

During the meeting, to be held in Beijing's Huairou district, authorities would carry out "regional inspections and supervision of polluting workshops, illegal outdoor barbecues and coal-fired boilers," Zhuang said, according to the paper.

But the paper cited Zou Shoumin, the Ministry of Environmental Protection's inspection office chief, as saying the curbs may not be as effective as those used during the Olympics because fall weather makes dispersing smog harder.

With a population of more than 21 million and more than 5 million cars on the road, Beijing's living conditions are being pushed to their limits.

Across the country, air quality is of increasing concern to China's stability-obsessed leaders, anxious to douse potential unrest as a more affluent urban population turns against a growth-at-all-costs economic model.

China's Premier Li Keqiang has declared war on pollution in an attempt to head off growing anger over the quality of China's air, water and soil.

China's environment ministry has historically been unable to enforce anti-pollution laws effectively, and despite repeated pledges to take action, little lasting progress appears to have been made.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Michael Perry)

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