Beijing is planning tougher punishments for outdoor barbeque activities as the notorious "capital of fog" steps up efforts to tackle air pollutions which have been troubling the populous city for years.
In Monday's draft to address the city air pollutions issues, Beijing's National People's Congress called off barbecues in any outdoor space that without government approvals and those running illegal barbeque operations could be fined up to 20,000 yuan, quadruple the earlier 5,000 yuan.
Outdoor barbecues, also known in China as "Chuan'r" is among the most popular dining activities in Beijing, especially in summer when friends and families gather for some happy time.
Beijing has long forbidden barbecues in the city's streets, hutong, squares, and neighborhood since 2000 amid increasing pressures to deal with heavy air pollution.
PM 2.5, sort of air pollutants that could harm people's health when levels in the air are high, surged in early this year when Beijing was merged in heavy smog for days.
About 13% of the PM 2.5 at that time came from cooking emissions, said Wang Yuesi, an atmospheric physics researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, after he studied on sources of those air pollutions.
Barbecue is a typical source of the PM 2.5 due to incomplete combustion, said Pan Xiaochuan, a professor at Beijing University, adding that burning fuel will also lead to emissions of carbon monoxide and sulfur oxides.
The strongest resistance for the "street barbecues crackdown" was from customers, rather than operators, said Zhu, a member of the city's Chengguan, the City Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau.
"They just love outdoor barbecues, drinking and chatting," Zhu said, adding it not only occupies traffic roads but also disturbs neighborhood.
Safety of barbecued food remains another concern as experts warn meat cooked at high temperature is likely to cause cancer.
More astonishingly, some barbecue operators in China even use rat meat as "lamb" to serve customers in order to make easy pickings. Time Out recently reported a tourist in Beijing was hospitalized from rat poison in Chuan'r.
It's probably time to lay off the street meat for a while, said the magazine.