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20:25 05/01/2017

Smog returns, but Beijing says skies are getting cleaner

Pollution alerts are common in northern China, especially during bitterly cold winters when energy demand, much of it met by coal, soars. The Chinese capital was on the second-highest orange smog alert in the depth of winter on Tuesday but city officials said the air quality was improving overall, citing data for last year. Hundreds of flights were cancelled and highways closed across northern China over the new year holiday as average concentrations of small breathable particles known as PM2.5 soared above 500 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing and surrounding regions.