While developing its economy, China is attaching more and more importance to environmental protection. In the early 1970s, the Chinese government put forward the policy and relevant measures on treating the “three wastes” (waste gas, waste water and residues), and started to cleanse polluted rivers, lakes and offshore sea areas. Some achievements were made. Since the initiation of the policies of reform and opening to the outside world, the Chinese government has taken environmental protection as a basic national policy, formulated a series of policies, laws and measures on environmental protection, and put forward the guiding principle of “simultaneously making plans for economic construction, urban and rural construction and environmental construction, while implementing the plans for development so as to integrate economic, social and environmental beneficial results into one.” It has also implemented the three major policies of “putting prevention first, and combining prevention with control,” “whoever causes pollution must remedy it” and “intensifying environmental administration.” The Central Government requires governments at all levels to work out environmental protection measure while formulating a plan for national economic and social development to make the economy and the environment develop in a coordinated way. In 1994, the Chinese government also promulgated the Agenda 21—White Paper on China’s Population, Environment and Development in the 21st Century, which for the first time put forward China’s general strategy for sustainable development, countermeasures and action programs. While developing its economy, China will handle properly the relations among the population, natural resources and the environment. In March 1996, the Fourth Session of the Eighth NPC approved the Outline of the Ninth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives to the Year 2010, which puts forward the cross-century environmental objectives as follows: By 2000, China will try to basically control environmental pollution and the worsening of the ecological environment, and the environmental quality of some cities and regions will be improved. By 2010, the worsening of the ecological environment will be basically checked, the urban environmental quality will be improved remarkably, and a number of cities and regions will feature rapid economic development, a beautiful environment and a benign ecological circle. In January 1999, the Chinese government worked out and approved the National Ecological Environmental Construction Program, which proposed a 50-year deadline for checking the worsening of the ecological environment in the short, medium and long terms.

Both the central and local governments have established environmental-protection management organs. By the end of 1999, China had more than 2,500 environmental-protection departments at or above the county level, 2,111 environmental-monitoring stations at all levels, and 118,000 environmental-protection personnel throughout the country, including 36,000 environmental monitoring personnel.

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Last updated: 2000-07-13.