BEIJING, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Authorities across China should shut down production capacity in polluting industries, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said Thursday in a statement on its website.
In its tasks assigned to local authorities, the MIIT ordered the shutdown of 28.7 million tons in steelmaking production capacity, a figure that exceeds the total steel output of Italy last year.
As part of the government's efforts to restructure the economy and clean up the environment, another 19 million tons of ironmaking production capacity must also be eliminated this year, the MIIT said.
Overcapacity has long been a problem plaguing China's policymakers. Steelmakers, for example, have not only been blamed for polluting China's air, rivers and soil, but for impeding the country's economic restructuring.
Chinese steel companies posted combined losses of 2.33 billion yuan (380 million U.S. dollars) in the first quarter, compared with profits of 8 billion yuan a year ago, according to data by the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA).
However, crude steel output continued to expand in the first quarter by 2.4 percent to 203 million tons, according to CISA.
Along with a reduction of 50.5 million tons of cement production capacity, the MIIT also required excess capacity to be shut down for other metal smelters, glassmaking and paper manufacturing plants.