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Beijing names and shames polluters

December 23, 2016

China has made yet another attempt to bring law-breaking companies to account as this week's outbreak of hazardous smog has shocked the world's second-largest economy. Beijing kicked off a new name-and-shame campaign.

China Smog in Peking
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Imaginechina/L. Gang

China publicly named more than 20 companies, which it said broke environmental rules during the most recent outbreak of hazardous smog in the country's north.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) accused steel and paper mills, cement plants, power generators and chemical producers of a range of offences, including ignoring output suspensions, evading government inspections and falsifying production data.

Beijing's latest public shaming campaign is its most overt attempt to bring polluters to account by exposing their infringements to wider community scrutiny.

Slow progress

China's Hebei province is home to seven of the country's 10 most polluted cities. While the transparency push has made it harder for companies to conceal transgressions, MEP investigations have shown the area remains one of the worst black spots for rule breaking.

Infografik Smog China Englisch

A new law enacted early last year laid out heavier punishments and ruled environmental violations must be disclosed to the public. The MEP was given greater powers this year to conduct spot inspections anywhere in the country and to summon officials to account for their actions.

However, with employment still a priority and penalties too weak, the name-and-shame tactic had done little in the past to discourage firms from evading or ignoring emergency measures to reduce smog in scores of cities in the north of China.

hg/jd (Reuters, dpa)