Government Taps West for Development

Deng Nan, vice-minister of science and technology, said that the Central Government intends to have large-scale developments in less developed western areas in the next few years.

Next year, for example, the State will focus on infrastructure construction, such as transportation and ecosystem development, Deng said at the annual meeting of the Chinese Association for Sustainable Development Research in Beijing.

She stressed the importance of protecting the water and soil in western areas because they are the sources of major rivers and lakes, including the Yangtze and Yellow rivers.

"Western areas should learn from what happened when eastern regions were developed, and not follow that path," Deng said. "Economic growth must be in harmony with the development of population, environment and natural resources."

When eastern China developed, environmental protection was ignored, she said.

Deng called on industrial sectors to place a high priority on environmental protection.

China will also be making sustainable development part of an urbanization drive.

Urbanization offers job opportunities for unemployed rural workers as well as the potential for increasing the income of farmers, Deng said.
The down side, Deng said, is that urbanization can also lead to water shortages, traffic congestion and environmental pollution.
Environmental protection and ecosystem conservation must be included in the 10th Five-Year Plan to ensure China's long-term economic growth and social development, Deng said.

Hu Angang, an economist helping to draft the 10th Five-Year Plan, said China must switch from high energy-consuming production to clean energy and energy-saving production in the next century.

"Government should enhance its role for the sustainable development during industrial restructuring," Hu said.

(China Daily 12/09/1999)

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