smog china
A tourist boat, decorated with green lights, travels on the Pearl River amid heavy haze in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, ChinaReuters

China is preparing to test a smog-busting drone in an effort to help clean up air pollution, which has reached crisis levels in most big cities across the country.

Pollution experts will test a parafoil plane made by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China. The unmanned vehicle has a gliding parachute which contains chemicals that effectively mop up particulates and other pollutants in the air.

The drone has flexible wings, making it easier to control. It can also carry three times the amount of chemical cargo than similar-sized aircraft, the company's chief executive, Ma Yongsheng, said.

According to the South China Morning Post, Ma said the parachute can carry up to 700kg of smog clearing-chemicals.

Over recent years, Chinese authorities have used planes to spray chemicals into the air, causing pollutants in smog to fall to the ground.

Ma also noted the drone can be used for emergency rescue, disaster relief and surveillance. There is also potential for its use in agriculture as it can spread seeds over wide areas.

Premier Li Keqiang told the National People's Congress rubberstamp parliament in Beijing that he had authorised a "war on pollution".

Five facts about China's smog

According to China's Xinhua news agency:

  1. 600 million people in China have been affected by the smog blanketing large parts of the country.
  2. The number of people admitted to hospital in Beijing for smog-related illnesses rose by 20% in 2013. Cases of breathing-related problems rose by 50%.
  3. Many foreign workers have left China because of health fears caused by the smog. One company reportedly pays expats around £15,000 a year extra to work in China as part of a hardship allowance.
  4. The Chinese have spent £85m on anti-smog products, such as masks and air purifiers.
  5. It's not all bad news. The news agency claims smog "unifies the Chinese people". It says smog makes them more conscious of their health and "more willing to show love to each other".