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Cross-border Rivers to Be Jointly Monitored
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China and Russia will jointly monitor cross-border rivers to ensure water quality, according to an agreement signed in Beijing yesterday.

The water bodies under joint surveillance include Heilong, Wusuli, Erguna and Suifen rivers and Xingkai Lake.

"The agreement marks a substantive step in environmental-protection co-operation between China and Russia," said Zhou Shengxian, minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

A chemical spill into Songhua River, the biggest tributary of Heilong River, threatened water security for both Chinese and Russians residents late last year. To prevent recurrence of such accidents, experts from the two countries will regularly exchange information and work together.

Zhou and Yuri Trutnev, Russian minister of natural resources, also agreed to work out plans to deal with emergencies.

Trutnev praised the Chinese Government for its quick response in handling the pollution in Songhua River and said Beijing should consider setting up a mechanism to punish enterprises responsible for environmental crises.

"I hope monitoring cross-border rivers is just a beginning of the two countries' cooperation on environmental protection," Zhou said. "China and Russia need to jointly develop comprehensive environmental protection."

(China Daily February 22, 2006)

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