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Environment becomes a priority

(China Daily)

08:30, January 25, 2013

Li Xiaosong, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport, takes questions from journalists at a news conference during the annual session of the city's legislature on Thursday in Beijing. (China Daily/Cui Meng)

Key Word: Air Pollution, Heavy Smog, Dense Fog

Public focus has shifted in recent years, especially with heavy smog in the capital

Journalists usually report social changes, but sometimes they signify the changes themselves.

Recently, journalists flocking to a news conference on the environment outnumbered - for the first time - those at the conference about the economy on the sidelines of the ongoing annual meetings that bring together Beijing's legislators and political advisers.

That reflects the shifting focus of the public: Beijingers increasingly care about the environment instead of economic growth.

Fang Li, spokesman for the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, was the media's most-wanted man.

One hour before a news conference by Fang on Thursday, about 100 journalists were waiting in the media room discussing air pollution and busily preparing their questions.

The conference lasted 75 minutes, but reporters still had questions to ask. Fang was surrounded by nearly 20 reporters when he was about to leave the room.

Fang's great popularity was in contrast with what happened at another news conference a day earlier, when fewer journalists showed up to hear the spokesman of the Beijing Commission of Development and Reform. It lasted no more than an hour.

In recent years, the environment has become a hot issue among residents and media alike, especially after the heavy smog that has hung around the capital since the beginning of January.

Fang told China Daily after the conference that residents keeping an eye on environmental protection is good for the bureau's work.

"The greater attention has indeed brought us much pressure, but also motivation. Every measure we took against pollution can turn into a hot topic among residents," he said.

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