Beijing's toxic smog years in the making

Poor enforcement of pollution laws, an addiction to coal, hundreds of thousands of new cars and a growth at all costs mantra has left Beijing smothered by a toxic cloud for nearly a week.

Chinese leaders dazzled the world by clearing the skies as if by edict before the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008. Fast forward to January 2013, and the government seems powerless against those same skies, tarnished by an opaque, toxic cloud that has smothered the city for nearly a week.

The number-two leader in the country's Communist Party hierarchy, Li Keqiang, appealed this week for Beijing's 20 million residents to show patience during what he said would be a "long-term" clean-up.


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