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China's leaders promise cleaner environment but face economic, political obstacles

Facing public outrage over smog-choked cities and filthy rivers, China's leaders are promising to clean up its neglected environment — a pledge that sets up a clash with political pressures to keep economic growth strong.

An array of possible initiatives discussed by officials and state media ahead of this week's meeting of China's legislature include tightening water standards and taxing carbon emissions.

No change is expected at the National People's Congress, which will be dominated by the installation of a new Cabinet under Communist Party leaders who took power in November.

Pollution and public frustration about it are hardly new to China. But now, the ruling party is under pressure from entrepreneurs and professionals who are crucial to its development plans and want cleaner living conditions.