Despite Xi’s ‘iron hand’ warning to polluters, city residents still choking under smog

BEIJING – Embracing a groundswell of public outrage about toxic air ahead of annual legislative meetings last year in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping threatened to punish polluters with an “iron hand.”

Fast forward a year, as delegates with China’s legislature meet again in the capital, and evidence suggests the iron hand may be loosening its grip, highlighting tension between the goals of environmental protection and economic growth, which hit the slowest pace in a quarter century last year.