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Beijing investigates high-polluting coal, chemical firms

[BEIJING] Beijing's government is investigating coal and other mining companies, as well as firms producing dangerous chemicals, in an effort to raise safety standards and push polluting enterprises out of the city, state media reported on Sunday.

Chinese authorities have come under growing pressure to combat a pervasive smog problem, which is a major source of public dissatisfaction, coming after decades of unbridled economic growth.

Last year, city investigations into fire safety, construction, dangerous chemicals and other industries suspended 7,778 firms and shuttered 906 more, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing the Beijing Administration of Work Safety.

The city wants to improve safety standards across industries, the report said, and force companies to use modern technology and equipment.

Higher standards would push high-risk and high-polluting enterprises, including those with high energy consumption, to leave the city, Xinhua said.

State media has in the past blamed northern China's reliance on coal for its energy needs, as well as heavy industry surrounding many northern cities, for the choking haze.