It might take China a decade to tackle its notorious smog problem, said Zhong Nanshan, a deputy of the National People's Congress and a renowned respiratory expert specialising in pandemics.
"Some experts said China might have to spend 30 years to fight the haze, like the lessons of London's Great Smog in 1952, but joint efforts nationwide might cut the time to 10 years," said Zhong at a news conference on Thursday in Beijing.
"A fresh breath of air requires both favourable meteorological conditions and nationwide effort."
According to research by Peking University on the improvement of air conditions during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the shutdown of polluting plants and banning of vehicles with excessive emissions during the Games reduced air pollution by 30 per cent and PM2.5, particulate matter with a diameter smaller than 2.5 microns, by 55 per cent, said Zhong.
Residents' heart rates also decreased while the function of blood platelets improved and blood pressure lowered, he said.
"This proves that China could have blue skies," said Zhong.
Another proof was that Beijing was free of smog during the APEC meetings as emission-heavy production was halted and half of the cars across the capital were kept off the roads.
"I was in Beijing during the APEC meeting and I was reminded of some 60 years ago, when I first came to Beijing to study in 1955," said Zhong.
"Beijing was free of smog or any haze back then, thanks to fewer vehicles discharging pollutants."
Zhong said that to improve air conditions nationwide, China should cut down on the consumption of coal, use better quality fuel and find less-polluting methods for companies.