Chinese environmental experts said Monday that the air quality in Beijing has improved significantly even if it has not brought a visible change as expected.
The comments came as the government's efforts in curbing pollution are being questioned following heavy smog in Beijing and its neighboring cities in the recent weeks, even before the start of the heating season.
China began to implement the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan in 2013, which sets specific goals for curbing air pollution.
Moderate smog is likely to hit Beijing again on Tuesday after a brief respite. The capital has already issued three yellow pollution alerts, the third-highest warning level, this month.
He Kebin, dean of the School of Environment at Tsinghua University and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told thepaper.cn that "overall, the average PM 2.5 particulate concentrations have decreased, along with the frequency of heavy smog and level of pollutant concentration."
Beijing aims to keep average PM2.5 levels below 60 micrograms per cubic meters in 2017. Its density of PM 2.5, a key pollutant, decreased by 12.5 percent year-on-year to 63 micrograms per cubic meter from January to August, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
As of October 19, the density of PM 2.5 particulates in regions of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province and the surrounding areas has declined by 14.3 percent on a year-on-year basis, but 8.5 percent higher than the national level, Minister of Environmental Protection Chen Jining said on Thursday.
To the bafflement of some local residents, the world's largest outdoor air purifier, designed by a Dutch designer, arrived in Beijing to help the capital combat its persistent hazardous smog.