China asks German firms to halt production before Olympics

China asks German firms to halt production before Olympics
Smog in Beijing frames banners for the upcoming Olympics. Photo: DPA
The Chinese government has asked six German companies to close factories near Beijing ahead of and during the Olympic Games in Beijing to help cut pollution, business daily Handelsblatt reported.

The German firms, which include paint maker Wörwag, construction machinery maker Wirtgen, BYK Chemie, and mining equipment maker DBT, are among more than 80 companies that have been asked to cease production in Langfang, Hebei province from July 15 to the end of September, the paper reported on Wednesday. Citing an official document it obtained, the paper said a total of some 267 companies had been asked to close operations in Hebei province while 40 factories have been shuttered in the port city Tianjin.

“These companies are producing for China’s economy,” Jörg Wuttke, president of the EU’s Chamber of Commerce in Beijing told the paper, adding that lost production will not reach billions of euros.

German news agency dpa said the list of factories asked to wind down production during the Olympics included companies from the US and South Korea.

The Chinese government is scrambling to improve the country’s notorious record on air pollution in time for the Olympic Games and says pollution in Beijing, especially levels of sulphur dioxide emissions which cause acid rain, are declining. The government promises the air will be clear by the time the athletes arrive for the Games, which start on August 8 and run until the end of the Paralympics a month later.

Companies, both foreign and domestic, in China are already struggling with heightened security measures imposed by the Chinese government ahead of the Olympics. Starting July 20, they will also have to deal with logistical problems such as restrictions on the transport of high-risk goods and wide-reaching travel bans in Beijing.