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Beijing vows better pollution data after smog anger
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Nov 2, 2011

Authorities in Beijing have pledged to improve the way they measure air quality amid accusations they massively underestimate pollution in the Chinese capital, state media said Wednesday.

Thick smog that blanketed the city on Monday and Tuesday highlighted a huge discrepancy between official data ranking the pollution at the time as "slight" and US embassy measurements ranking Beijing's air quality as "hazardous".

With growing numbers of Beijing residents trusting the American figures over their own government, the popular state-run Global Times newspaper said city authorities were considering overhauling their own measuring system.

"The Beijing bureau applies the current national standard, which is undergoing an amendment," the Global Times quoted Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau's Du Shaozhong as saying.

The discrepancy is because China currently only measures large particles that pollute the air, while the US system also includes the smaller particles that make up much of the pollution in Beijing, the paper said.

China currently measures particulate matter between 2.5 and 10 micrometres (393.7 microinches) in diameter, known as PM10.

Scientists say Beijing's pollution is mostly caused by fine particulates smaller than 2.5 micrometres, or PM2.5, which are considered more dangerous to human health.

"Technically we are ready to adopt the PM2.5 standard," Du said on his microblog site.

International organisations including the United Nations list Beijing as one of the most polluted cities in the world, mainly due to its growing energy consumption, much of which is still fuelled by coal.

The discrepancy between the two sets of figures has sparked a debate in Chinese media and among web users, with some saying they suffered from headaches and nausea and disputing the government's assessment of the pollution as "slight".

The Global Times on Monday urged the government to "be cooperative in avoiding confusing information" about air pollution.

"Figures by some local governments show the air pollution index is dropping in some cities, such as Beijing... But some Beijing citizens complain the figures do not match their experience," it said in an editorial.

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China city drafts 'Good Samaritan' law
Beijing (AFP) Nov 2, 2011 - A city in southern China is considering passing a law to protect people who help strangers from being sued, after a case in which an injured toddler was ignored by 18 passers-by, a report said Wednesday.

Officials in Shenzhen are drafting rules that would protect well-intentioned rescuers from legal action if their efforts failed "as long as there was no negligence or deliberate sabotage", the China Daily said.

There have been renewed calls for such laws in China after the death last month of a two-year-old girl who was twice run over in the southern city of Foshan, which like Shenzhen is located in the prosperous province of Guangdong.

At least 18 people walked past the girl, nicknamed Yue Yue, as she lay unconscious in the street, in a case that shocked the nation and sparked much soul-searching about the state of China's morals.

Millions of Chinese went online to watch the grainy footage of the incident, which triggered speculation that the country's rapid development and urbanisation has made people more selfish.

Reports said the passers-by were likely concerned they would be held responsible if they stopped to help, after a high-profile 2006 case in which a driver who stopped to assist an elderly woman was later accused of knocking her down and sued.

Western countries including the United States, Canada and Australia, already have laws to protect rescuers from legal action, while in France people can be prosecuted if they fail to come to the aid of someone in danger.

But Zhou Chengxin, an official with the Legislative Affairs Office of Shenzhen, told AFP it would be the first such law in China.

Zhou said it was not clear when the draft law would be submitted to Shenzhen lawmakers for discussion.


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Myanmar seeks outside help to build 'green economy'
Naypyidaw (AFP) Nov 1, 2011
Myanmar urged developed nations on Tuesday to share their green technologies, in the military-backed government's latest effort to reach out to the global community. "Being a developing country, we need technological transfer, particularly for the development of renewable energy through solar, wind and tidal power," Environmental Conservation and Forestry Minister Win Tun said as he opened a ... read more

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