Beijing to be built into a forest city by 2025: government
The Beijing government has recently announced plans to expand the forest area of the capital city and raise the ecological balance, so that 14 out of its total 16 districts could meet standards for national forest-city by 2025, as part of the country's latest efforts this year to fight urban pollution after intensively cracking down on polluting businesses and derelict regulators in some industrial cities.

According to the China Daily, a national forest city refers to a city whose urban ecological system is mainly forest that meets the forest standards set out by the State Forestry and Grassland Administration.

In a recent launch event, the municipal government of Beijing said it will draft an urban development plan for building Beijing into a forest city surrounded by greenery while boasting blue skies and clean water, reported the Beijing Youth Daily. Pinggu, which lies at the extreme eastern end of the city and known to be China's hometown of peach is expected to be the first district meeting the standards by the end of the year, while most of the other areas look to realize the goal by 2025.

Wang Cheng, the chief expert of the State Forestry and Grassland Administration who is in charge of drafting the plan, told the media that Beijing intends not only to build a forest-city but become a livable city by international standards. “The landscaping (work) to build urban forest, micro green land and natural ecological circles would be pushed along with 'campaigns to demolish and renovate constructions for upgrading,” he said.

A deadly blaze took away 19 lives including seven children last November, and since then the Beijing city has engaged in regular campaigns to dismantle illicit buildings and structures, citing safety reasons. Although many foreign media reported the move had meant to evict migrant workers from the city, local authorities claimed it to be part of efforts to relieve urban congestion and renovate run-down buildings in bid to upgrade the city’s appearance.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban & Rural Development as well laid out work priorities of 2018 one month ago, noting it would push forward popularity of green buildings. The construction regulator pledged to make 40 percent of the new buildings green architecture by the end of the year. Green construction is known to be capable of saving energy and resources while reducing pollution and protecting the environment.

Right before forest city and green building initiatives, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment had clamped down hard on dozens of polluting enterprises in Hebei and Shanxi provinces, known to be national centers of heavy industry and coal mining respectively. The national environmental regulator had also investigated into cases in which businesses colluding with local governments and regulators. The series of striking-out have made to national headlines while stirring up heated discussion on Chinese social media platforms.

It was reported previously that air pollution in Beijing, Tianjin and dozens of surrounding cities had been effectively dealt with last winter thanks to the government's rigorous curbs on industrial production and a small-scale ban on coal burning besides constant windy weather that usually helps clear pollutants.

Despite that, Huang Wei, Greenpeace's East Asia climate and energy campaigner, was quoted by the South China Morning post as saying that policies favoring coal and heavy industry are holding back progress in bringing down pollution levels.

The environment watchdog also warned China of record-high ozone pollution levels last year, which was believed to be caused by summertime rise in factory production. According to the South China Morning Post, ozone pollution has emerged as a major health risk in cities, potentially causing deaths from stroke and heart disease.

Environmental protection, along with poverty relief and control of financial risks have been listed by President Xi Jinping as top three priorities, according to media reports. After the annual meeting of the National People's Congress in March, Han Zheng, a member of the Communist Party’s elite Politburo Standing Committee was elected as one of the vice-premiers. With his reputation of solving Shanghai's enduring pollution problem as the Party boss of the city, Han is reported to be heading the grand enterprise concerning Chinese people's well-being.  

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