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#30 As smog season begins, China warns against leaving residents without winter heat

Sometimes to win the war against pollution, you have to beat a tactical retreat.

That was the message from one of China's top officials Thursday, who warned against taking overzealous measures against coal burning after a clampdown last winter left millions of households across Beijing and northern China without heat during the coldest parts of the year.

Temperatures in the capital can plummet to lows of -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) during the winter months.

Speaking at a symposium in northern Hebei province, which borders the Chinese capital, Vice Premier Han Zheng said it was a government priority to transition to clean energy -- such as natural gas or renewables -- for heating.

However, he said officials must ensure natural gas supplies are sufficient, adding it was "absolutely forbidden" to dismantle existing heating facilities and leave households without a source of warmth.

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