The industry-based development in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai would not have been possible without drawing water, energy and human resources from nearly regions, which were encouraged to focus on agriculture at the expense of development.
North China, which battles smog in the winter, also has the problem of crop burning. Some local governments in China are penalizing farmers who burn their crop remains and thus contribute to the air pollution in nearby cities. The problem is, farmers often burn crop remains as it is the only way to treat remains, and they have to burn coals to keep warm during the freezing winter in North China because they lack other means of heating.
Clearly more needs to be done for rural development and offering farmers other sources of heating during the winter months. Ideally, they should be provided with alternative energy sources, solar power or natural gas for example, to keep their homes warm in the freezing winter.
This can be achieved by China; the country leads the world in investment in renewable energy.
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