China's Minister of Human Resources and Social Security, Yin Weimin, announced Monday the country needed to brace for massive job cuts in the coal and steel sectors.
He said some 1.8 million workers in the industries in question were likely to be laid off over the next couple of years, but gave no exact time frame for the job losses.
Yin added that capacity cuts would lead to some small-scale layoffs later this year, but said he was confident of keeping employment more or less stable in 2016 despite downward pressure on the economy.
Fighting smog in cities
In a bid to combat both overcapacity and pollution, China aims to remove around 500 million tons of coal production within the next three to five years and halt approvals of all new projects.
The Asian country's cities are often hit by heavy pollution blamed on heavy industry, massive vehicle use and, above all, on coal-burning by power stations.
Nearly 300 Chinese cities failed to meet national standards for air quality in 2015 as authorities expanded the list of monitored towns to 367 from just 189 before 2015.
Public discontent about the environment has grown in the world's second-largest economy, leading the government in Beijing to declare a war on pollution and vow to reduce the proportion of energy derived from fossil fuels.
hg/bea (Reuters, AFP)