Guangdong comes clean about air pollution under pressure from Hong Kong

South China's Guangdong has been ranked as China's most transparent province when it comes to air quality. 

Guangdong province in south China has emerged as the most transparent about its air quality in a new ranking of 113 Chinese cities compiled by Chinese think tank the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE).

Six of the top 10 performers in the list are in Guangdong, namely Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Foshan and Zhuhai. Foshan ranked equal to Beijing, in fifth place. IPE director Ma Jun said pressure from nearby Hong Kong had forced Guangdong to clean up its act.

Because industry in Guangdong is so developed, the air pollution is severe, which has a large impact on the air quality of neighbouring Hong Kong. Under the coordination of both sides, the air quality monitoring information communication system of the Pearl River Delta has gradually become more efficient. In 2010, when Guangzhou decided to introduce ozone monitoring on a shared basis with Hong Kong, it became the first city on the mainland to announce its ozone index.

Hong Kong has long been interested in the environmental protection of the Pearl River Delta. In 1994, the Daya Bay nuclear power plant, located in Longgang district, Shenzhen, began supplying power to both Guangzhou and Hong Kong. In 2010, news of a leak from the nuclear power station caused concern in Hong Kong.

Despite the claims of some scholars who say that the safety of the Daya Bay power plant far surpasses that of Fukushima in Japan, polls reported by Hong Kong’s Apollo news network in 2011 found more than 60% of Hong Kong residents wanted Guangdong to suspend all nuclear power projects, and opposed the plans of the Hong Kong government to expand the consumption of nuclear power.

Before 2009, Guangdong had fallen behind Jiangsu in publishing air quality information, but over the past three years Guangdong’s systems have rapidly improved, allowing the province to jump into first place. Many cities, via the internet and other such channels of information, have already begun announcing their own PM.25 levels.

Translated by chinadialogue intern William Lawrenson.