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China shuts thousands of factories in drive against pollution

“Our people will be able to see stars at night and hear birds chirp.”

China is in the midst of an all-out blitz on polluters flouting emissions standards, closing tens of thousands of factories in a massive effort to address the nation’s catastrophic pollution problems.

Estimates of the crackdown suggest as much as 40 percent of China’s factories have been temporarily closed by safety inspectors, with officials from more than 80,000 factories charged with criminal offences for breaching emissions limits over the past year.

The months-long campaign coincides with China announcing this week at its Communist Party congress its plan to cut the concentration of hazardous fine particulate matter (called PM2.5) from 47 micrograms per cubic metre in 2016 to 35 micrograms by 2035.

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