VIII-12 Question: In recent years, the Western media has gone to great lengths to emphasize the effect of China's economic development on global environment. How does China respond to this? What measures will the Chinese Government take to lessen the pollution caused by speedy economic development?
A: The world's environmental pollution is boundless. In the primary stages of the industrial revolution, some Western countries spread the negative effects of their modernization to other regions, polluting other countries' environment. The environmental pollution caused by China's economic development is a byproduct of the narrow work division of the world industry. When Chinese-made products are exported, the pollution stays in the country. So China is not only a consumer of resources and producer of pollution, but also a major victim of a polluted environment.
These one-sided media reports exaggerate the environmental pollution caused by China and ignore the economic benefits that the country contributes to the world. The effect of China's economic development on the outside environment does not go against any rules and requirements of the World Trade Organization and international agreements or treaties. China is now actively dealing with the related environmental issues to fulfill its duty as a responsible big country. So the so-called "Chinese environmental threat" is groundless and not in accordance with international law.
Environmental pollution indeed poses a great challenge to the development of the country, and the problem has not been well handled so far. In 2006, the Chinese Government accelerated the transfer of its resource-consuming industries to eco-friendly ones. Under a steady economic growth, the country plans to greatly improve the environment quality in major cities and regions by 2010. Also, by that year, the country's energy consumption per GDP will be reduced by 20 percent compared to that of 2005, and the gross emission of pollutants will be cut by 10 percent. At the same time, forest coverage will be raised from the current 18.2 percent to 20 percent. In an unprecedented move, the Central Government will accord environmental protection targets an equal status with economic development.
To achieve these goals, the Chinese Government will speed up economic reconstruction, during which a number of energy-consuming or low-efficiency factories will be shut down. New projects will be less energy-consuming and less polluted. Projects expected to produce heavy environmental pollution will have to be approved by law if they are to take off. The government suspended 82 projects relating to industries of steel, electricity and metallurgy in January 2007 in four regions, which were found failing to reach the environmental standard. The suspension will not be lifted in these regions and fields until these projects reduce their pollution emission to a qualified standard.
Furthermore, China will increase its investment in environmental protection. The country plans to pour 1.4 trillion yuan to clean up its environment, a project that started in 2006 and will end in 2010. In this way, China will fulfill its responsibilities toward the world and attempt to pave the way for an eco-friendly future.