| BEIJING, April 17
BEIJING, April 17 China's capital has ordered
more than 50 companies to shut down this year in an effort to
cut pollution but pushing factories out could raise objections
in surrounding areas reluctant to host Beijing's polluters.
Smog-shrouded Beijing and the surrounding province of Hebei
have become a front in a "war against pollution" declared by
Premier Li Keqiang last month.
But experts say efforts to cut coal consumption and
industrial output in big cities like Beijing is likely to put
pressure on other regions to endure more pollution to keep the
economy growing, with overall coal consumption expected to rise
by a quarter from 2011 to 2015.
"Moving Beijing's plants to Hebei isn't the best way," said
Yang Fuqiang, a former government researcher and senior energy
and environment adviser with the National Resources Defense
Council, a U.S.-based think-tank.
"They have to move much further away to western or central
China, where manufacturing needs to be developed and where local
economic problems are much more immediate," Yang said.
According to Beijing authorities, the city has ordered 53
enterprises to relocate factories producing steel, heavy
machinery and chemicals, and will pay them 90.5 million yuan
($14.55 million) in compensation.
The number of closures for the whole of the year could
eventually reach 500, the official People's Daily newspaper
reported this week, citing Zhang Boxu, the head of Beijing's
On the list are ageing steel processing facilities owned by
the Shougang Group, one of China's biggest steel
firms which moved most of its production to Hebei province
before the Olympic Games in 2008.
A pharmaceutical plant owned by the Xinxing Cathay
International Group, a Fortune 500 firm, will
relocate after it signed an agreement with the city of Handan in
The Xinhua news agency said on Thursday that moving the
pharmaceutical plant would cut Beijing's carbon dioxide
emissions by 400,000 tonnes a year, sulphur dioxide emissions by
9,000 tonnes and dust by 10,000 tonnes.
The company was not available for comment on Thursday but an
official with the Handan city government confirmed the move.
The official said that the new facilities were not expected
to add to the environmental pressures facing the city, the
location of dozens of small, private steel mills, because the
company would use surplus energy produced by nearby enterprises.
However, authorities in Hebei, already under pressure to
reduce emissions, have expressed concern that they are being
asked to take in some of Beijing's dirtiest enterprises.
The government in Langfang city has expressed opposition to
a plan to move some of Beijing's "low-end" industry there,
Xinhua reported this week, a strategy the news agency described
as "beggar thy neighbour".
Yang of the NDRC said relocated firms needed to be
encouraged to use the proceeds from selling property in Beijing
to upgrade technologies and set higher environmental standards.
The government is hoping to create an integrated "economic
circle" with Beijing at its centre, the National Development and
Reform Commission, China's top planning agency, announced this
Authorities in Hebei are hoping the plan will give the
province more incentive to shut its old polluting industries
like steel and cement and develop more modern, cleaner
According to the Beijing Daily newspaper, the capital is
planning to move as many as 5 million of its residents to Hebei,
with the aim of capping total population at 18 million by 2020.
State media reported last month that Beijing was also
planning to transfer some government functions to the city of
Baoding in Hebei.
About a third of Beijing's smog comes from outside the city,
prompting authorities to encourage the whole region to cut
"In my opinion, any industrial reform in
Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei should obey one rule - the reduction in
total pollutant emissions," said Huang Wei, campaigner in
Beijing with environmental group Greenpeace.
($1 = 6.2214 Chinese Yuan)
(Additional reporting by Stian Reklev, Kathy Chen and Beijing
newsroom; Editing by Robert Birsel)