|Vehicles move near the Han River in Seoul, Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2019. AP-Yonhap|
By Kim Yoo-chul
China downplayed Seoul's claim that Beijing is a major source of its recent fine dust pollution, despite the Korean foreign minister stressing there was a link with regard to the deteriorating air quality.
"I wonder if the South Korean side has any clear basis that its smog is from China," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a media briefing, Wednesday, adding that fine dust readings had been higher in Seoul than in Beijing, recently. "All countries realize that the cause is highly complicated."
On Thursday, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha responded: "It is true that the worsening air quality in South Korea is attributable to a China-originated factor." The remarks came on the sidelines of the minister's participation in a National Assembly meeting on North Korea issues.
President Moon Jae-in proposed a joint project with China to use "artificial rain" to clean the air across the country, where dust levels have been reaching record highs over the past week, prompting people to wear masks while commuting under thick-gray skies.
Moon ordered relevant government agencies to speed up the retirement of old coal-burning power plants, in response.