A policeman talks to the driver of a motor-tricycle on a road amid heavy haze in Handan city in northern China's Hebei province Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015. (Chinatopix via AP)
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Air quality in China's capital, Beijing, has improved over the last two years, a senior environment official said on Friday, despite a dramatic three-week episode of hazardous smog that drew worldwide attention last year.The thick smog that shrouded the city for 22 days over November and December had distorted the picture of Beijing's environmental record since 2014, city official Yu Jianhua told reporters.Concentrations of sulphur dioxide, a gas that can cause breathing difficulties, fell 49 percent in Beijing from 2013 to 2015, while particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres, a dangerous airborne component of smog, fell 10 percent, Yu added.Environmental concerns had prompted authorities to force a total of 718 firms to move out of Beijing in 2015, he added.
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