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Chinese Officials Arrested for Falsifying Air Quality Data

(Asia Times) Environmental protection officials in the northwestern Chinese city of Xian have been detained after they were found to have tampered with air quality monitoring equipment and falsified data, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.

As part of its war against pollution, China has been trying to establish a real-time emissions monitoring system that will allow it to punish violations more effectively, but the widespread falsification of data remains a huge challenge.

The country’s new environmental protection law, which went into effect at the start of last year, stipulated that parties guilty of falsifying data would be held equally responsible for pollution and punished accordingly.

The Xian environmental protection bureau confirmed media reports that staff at a local monitoring station had stuffed sensors with cotton to lower emission readings and removed surveillance tapes to cover up their deception, Xinhua said.

A total of five officials are facing charges. It was not possible to determine their identity or to reach them.

Officials with the Xian environmental bureau would not comment on the matter when contacted.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said his ministry had already contacted the Xian bureau and was awaiting a response.

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