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Chinese government brings blue skies back to Beijing

Katie Jones
Digital Reporter

Saturday, August 29, 2015, 12:30 PM - With a reputation for being one of the most polluted cities on the planet, Beijing may be the last place you would expect to see brilliant blue skies.

Much to the shock and delight of local residents and officials, the signature smoggy haze has cleared over China's capital city, due to the success of an recent air pollution reduction plan.

For the first time ever, the Chinese government has met its air pollution target, put in place earlier this summer. In order to meet the goal, major air pollutants had to be reduced by 40% in Beijing and 30% in nearby areas compared to the same period in 2014. 

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Monitoring Centre has found that the concentration of particles in the air is now far below the national air quality standard.

Commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II prompted officials to implement drastic measures in order to rectify the host city's environment.

The plan for reducing air pollution involved cutting back on the number of cars on the roads, as well as restricting industrial factory operations.

Beginning August 20, drivers had to alternate days they were allowed to use city roads, based on whether their license plates ended with even or odd numbers. Hundreds of factories were shut down or forced to reduce production from August 28 onward. Over 40,000 construction sites have also been closed in Beijing and its surrounding provinces in an effort to cut down on air pollution.

Now when WWII events commence on September 3rd, a backdrop of blue sky will come as a breath of fresh air for locals and visitors alike.

Air pollution has been blamed for about 1.6 million deaths in China. That works out to an average of about 4,000 fatalities each day, due to a variety of ailments including stroke, lung cancer and respiratory infections.

While this is not the first time that restrictions on polluting practices have helped cut through the smog in Beijing, questions remain if the city will be able to sustain clearer conditions, and if the trend will stretch to other parts of the country.

The country has launched a so-called 'war on pollution,' pledging $277 billion towards cleaner air. More than 360 Chinese cities are now publicly monitoring and disclosing air pollution amounts.

Social media has been flooded with images of the clear blue skies over Beijing in recent days.

Take a look at some of the best images below.

RELATED VIDEO BELOW: Hazardous pollution alert in Beijing in April 2015

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