This is NEWS Plus Special English. I'm Liu Yan in Beijing. Here is the news.
Environmental watchdogs have strengthened inspections to reduce pollutant emissions as the air quality deteriorated to the most severe readings recently in north China, including Beijing.
Beijing required over 2,100 major companies in polluting industries to suspend their production. It also ordered all construction sites to stop work as well to cut emissions. The move came after an orange alert was issued on Nov. 28, the second-highest response to air pollution.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection has sent several inspection teams to supervise the implementation. Ignoring the suspension order can result in punishment including hefty fines.
The air quality index in many cities, including Beijing and the cities of Langfang and Baoding in Hebei province, reached the top reading of 500 last Monday, meaning air pollution had reached the most severe level. Heavy smog shut down major highways and expressways in the region.
You're listening to NEWS Plus Special English. I'm Liu Yan in Beijing.
All students in compulsory education will receive free textbooks starting from the spring semester of 2017.
The finance and education ministries announced that the students will also be exempt from tuition and other education fees.
China started offering free textbooks in 2008. In 2013, around 86 percent of the 138 million students in the nine-year compulsory education period used free textbooks.
The move is one of the most important measures taken by the ministries to make compulsory education fairer. The new policy will also cover students from private schools, benefiting at least 12 million private school students, enabling them to enjoy the same financial support from the central government as peers from public schools.
A senior official from the 21st Century Education Research applauded the policy as good news, particularly for those studying at schools open to the children of migrant rural laborers working in cities.
This is NEWS Plus Special English.