People wearing masks walk toward an office building during the smog after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing's central business district, China, December 21, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee

The Ministry of Environmental Protection has approved the setting up of a cross-regional environmental protection agency in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and surrounding areas, the 21st Century Business Herald reported, citing the Ministry in a press conference. The procedures have been actively promoted.

The move is in response to the area’s growing concerns over haze.

Staff inspector Liu Youbin of the Ministry of Environmental Protection said that from October 1 to 27, the 18 cities the surrounding area saw a 4.6% decrease in average PM2.5 concentrations.

“The regional air quality is steadily improving,” he said.

Liu said the next step is to urge all localities to complete the task of tackling air pollution, and to ensure average PM2.5 concentrations continue to fall between October 2017 and March 2018.