The Chinese Government
has committed itself, in its 10th Five-year Plan (2001-05),
to improving the nation's environment through a combination
of laws and increased environmental investment, a top environmental
protection official said yesterday.
Xie Zhenhua, minister of the State Environmental Protection
Administration, revealed this plan at a seminar on sustainable
Speaking before Xie, Yukon Huang, the World Bank's country director
of China, asserted that financial problems, rising unemployment
and a deteriorating environment will be the major threats to
China's development in the next 20 years.
Xie acknowledged the serious environmental situation unfolding
in China and stressed that pollution will gradually be reduced.
As part of the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1996-2000), the central
government attempted to limit gross pollution to the level it
reached in 1995. By 1999, the country had exceeded that goal,
actually lowering the gross pollution level.
During that period, environmental investment reached 380 billion
yuan (US$45.9 billion), accounting for roughly one percent of
the nation's gross domestic product.
The goal of the new 10th Five-Year Plan is to reduce gross pollution
levels by 10 per cent by 2005.
Xie emphasized that environmental protection must be balanced,
and enhanced, with economic progress.
"Only with better development can the government and enterprises
attain the money and technology to fight pollution," the
Xie pointed out law as one tool in the fight against pollution.
Enterprises unable to introduce pollution treatment facilities
will be heavily fined in order to benefit those manufacturers
who adopt relatively expensive environmentally friendly technologies
The minister added that pollution prevention should be combined
with industrial restructuring. Low efficiency, high pollution
enterprises will be gradually phased out, and clean industries,
such as the high-tech and service industries, will be developed.
Xie admitted that the sewage treatment rate in large cities
is currently only 15 percent, but he promised that rate would
reach 50 percent by 2004.
Foreign investment in sewage treatment is currently low because
fees paid for sewage services are low. But, according to Xie,
the State Council has decided to increase these fees in order
to make the field a reasonably profitable market.
More than 100 central and local officials and researchers participated
in the seminar, which was jointly sponsored by the World Bank
and the National School of Administration.
Doctor Claude Martin, director general of the World Wildlife
Fund, and Bjorn Stigson, president of the World Business Council
for Sustainable Development, also made presentations.
(China Daily 10/31/2000)