China 'Falling Short' on Fighting Pollution: Premier
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - China is falling short of its people's expectations in battling smog, Premier Li Keqiang said on Sunday, one week after authorities blocked a scathing documentary on the country's air pollution problem.
Li, who is second only to President Xi Jinping in the Communist hierarchy, made the comments at his once-a-year meeting with journalists at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.
Reporters attending the annual event are typically required to submit their questions in advance.
"The Chinese government is determined to tackle smog and pollution," Li said. "The progress we have made still falls short of the expectations of our people."
One year ago, Li pledged that China would declare "war on pollution", and the premier said Sunday that Beijing is "determined to continue our efforts".
"We will continue to track down and pursue polluting companies," he said, adding that "environmental authorities must not suffer interference from industry, and should be brave enough to take on responsibility".
China's cities are often hit by heavy pollution, blamed on coal-burning by power stations and industry, as well as vehicle use.
The issue has become a major source of popular discontent with the Communist Party, leading the government to vow to reduce the proportion of energy derived from fossil fuels.
Last month, former Chinese state media journalist Chai Jing released a hard-hitting independent documentary on the country's air pollution problem.
The 103-minute video investigation, "Under the Dome", racked up more than 155 million views on mainland Chinese video streaming sites just one day after its release, AFP reported.
China's newly-appointed environmental protection minister, Chen Jining, praised the video, telling reporters that it should "encourage efforts by individuals to improve air quality".