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What Beijing looks like on a gloriously clear day

Story highlights

  • Beijing's smog has been particularly bad this year
  • China's Action Plan for Air Pollution Control calls for $230B to be spent on pollution controls
  • The rare clear day provokes a frenzy of picture taking in the capital

It is not uncommon to see tourists and residents in Beijing frequently check their smartphones and laptops to get the city's latest air quality readings, such is the problem with pollution.

This year has been particularly bad as the Chinese capital has been blanketed by smog on most days. The gritty, dangerous air has shrouded buildings and caused flights delays.

To be fair, it is not always doom and Beijing-style gloom -- the city does enjoy good days too, as the gallery above shows.

Read: Beijing pollution: Does it put you off traveling there?

But these better days seem few and far between. Recent data from measurements of particulates in the air, indicated levels fluctuating between "very unhealthy" and "hazardous," according to the US Embassy's Beijing Air, an air-quality monitoring apps.

On a few occasions the numbers were so bad they were deemed "beyond index."

Taking action

In July, China unveiled The Action Plan for Air Pollution Control (2013--2017), which calls for 1.7 trillion yuan ($230 billion) to be spent on air pollution controls over the next five years.

In a separate initative, to help reduce smog, Beijing will begin testing a new automobile pollution tax this year, the first Chinese city to do so.

The pollution tax will be collected at the city's gas stations and will be added on to the standard gas prices. Beijing is also adding more than 1,000 electric taxis this year.

These measures may not be nearly enough, but they're still music to the ears of Beijing's 17 million residents who have been spluttering in the city's bad air.

Read: Living with Beijing's 'air-pocalypse'