$17B, 1 Million Cars Lighter, China Still Mired In Smog

08/07/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Shai Oster Wall Street Journal

BEIJING -- China has gone to Olympian lengths to try to ensure that its skies are clear for the Summer Games, which formally kick off in 10 days. It has spent $17 billion on antipollution measures in recent years. Last week, it forced more than a million cars off the streets, halted construction in and around the city, and temporarily closed hundreds of factories in surrounding provinces.

But despite these measures, the Chinese capital remains mired in a gray haze, and the government's pollution readings have exceeded its own safe levels four out of the past eight days.

Now, with the prospect of international embarrassment looming, officials are considering even tougher measures, including shutting more factories. They might also ban as many as 90% of Beijing's private vehicles on especially bad days during the Games, a government adviser said Monday. Special lanes for Olympic VIPs may be abandoned because officials say they're causing extra congestion and making the air worse.

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