Beijingers are going without barbecue. Construction sites have halted work. Factories hundreds of kilometres away have halted production.

Despite all-out efforts to give the Chinese Communist Party blue skies for its twice-a-decade congress, Beijing’s notorious smog has cloaked the mega-city in its trademark toxic haze.

The capital typically enjoys an unusual succession of clear days when the party holds major events, with smoke-churning factories ordered to shut down.

Even restaurants famous for flavourful shish kebabs turned off their barbecues, with a waiter telling diners at one eatery this week that the lamb delicacies would be off the menu during the congress.

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