Visibility drops in Beijing due to sandstorm conditions on April 27, 2021. [Photo/IC]

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment recently held a News briefing to address public concerns over the fierce sandstorms in China’s northern region in recent months and the doctoring of monitoring data by some polluting enterprises to escape fines and punishments.

Since the beginning of this year, fierce sandstorms have swept across large swathes of the northern region with greater intensity than in the past 10 years. This has adversely affected the air quality in more than 240 prefecture-level and above cities, and the number of days with good air quality in the whole year is expected to decrease by about 2.4 percentage points.

The top environmental watchdog has established a fast response mechanism for sandstorm on the basis of daily consultations on air quality monitoring and forecasts. Such targeted consultations and studies on the trend and impacts of sandstorms have helped in issuing timely warnings to the public.

Thanks to the strengthened measures to prevent the advance of deserts and the greening of deserts in recent years, there has been a significant decline in the number of sandstorms across China. However, the fierce sandstorms in northern China show there is a need to further strengthen the early warning system and establish international cooperation in environmental governance.

Global environmental governance and protection know no borders. While strengthening its own environmental governance and improving its own environmental protection quality, China needs to create a broader space for international cooperation and work with its neighbors and the international community to promote environmental governance and protection.

At the News briefing, the ministry reported a number of cases of fraud in automatic data monitoring by key polluting enterprises. Some enterprises have been accused of falsifying production records or the monitoring data. Regulators, therefore, need to establish a foolproof working mechanism to prevent data falsification and penalize those doing so.

Given that the falsification of automatic monitoring data by key polluting enterprisers cannot be easily detected, the regulators should take advantage of technology´╝Źsuch as unmanned aerial vehicles, remote sensing monitoring and visualization´╝Źto thoroughly check the authenticity of automatic monitoring data.

Ecological and environmental protection measures should leave no room for data falsification. Objectivity and truthfulness of monitoring data are the basis for all environmental protection work. There must be zero tolerance for doctoring of automatic monitoring data and no act of fraud should go unpunished.