I. The Choice of Implementing a
Sustainable Development Strategy
China's modernization drive has been launched in the following conditions: The country has a large population base, its per-capita average of natural resources is low, and its economic development as well as scientific and technological level remain quite backward. Along with the growth of China's population, the development of the economy and the continuous improvement of the people's consumption level since the 1970s, the pressure on resources, which were already in rather short supply, and on the fragile environment has become greater and greater. Which road of development to choose has turned out, historically, to be an issue of paramount importance to the survival of the Chinese people as well as their posterity.
The Chinese government has paid great attention to the environmental issues arising from the country's population growth and economic development, and has made protecting the environment an important aspect of the improvement of the people's living standards and quality of life. In order to promote coordinated development between the economy, the society and the environment, China enacted and implemented a series of principles, policies, laws and measures for environmental protection in the 1980s.
-- Making environmental protection one of China's basic national policies. The prevention and control of environmental pollution and ecological destruction and the rational exploitation and utilization of natural resources are of vital importance to the country's overall interests and long-term development. The Chinese government is unswervingly carrying out the basic national policy of environmental protection.
-- Formulating the guiding principles of simultaneous planning, simultaneous implementation and simultaneous development for economic construction, urban and rural construction and environmental construction, and combining the economic returns with social effects and environmental benefits; and carrying out the three major policies of ``prevention first and combining prevention with control,'' ``making the causer of pollution responsible for treating it'' and ``intensifying environmental management.''
-- Promulgating and putting into effect laws and regulations regarding environmental protection and placing environmental protection on a legal footing, continuously improving the statutes concerning the environment, formulating strict law-enforcement procedures and increasing the intensity of law enforcement so as to ensure the effective implementation of the environmental laws and regulations.
-- Persisting in incorporating environmental protection into the plans for national economic and social development, introducing to it macro regulation and management under state guidance, and gradually increasing environmental protection input so as to give simultaneous consideration to environmental protection and other undertakings and ensure their coordinated development.
-- Establishing and improving environmental protection organizations under governments at all levels, forming a rather complete environmental control system, and bringing into full play the governments' role in environmental supervision and administration.
-- Accelerating progress in environmental science and technology. Strengthening research into basic theories, organizing the tackling of key scientific and technological problems, developing and popularizing prac"itical technology for environmental pollution prevention and control, fostering the growth of environmental protection industries, and giving initial shape to an environmental protection scientific research system.
-- Carrying out environmental publicity and education to enhance the whole nation's awareness of the environment. Widely conducting environmental publicity work, gradually popularizing environmental education in secondary and primary schools, developing on-the-job education in environ"imen tal protection and vocational education, and training specialized personnel in environmental science and technology as well as environmental administration.
-- Promoting international cooperation in the field of environmental protection. Actively expanding exchanges and cooperation concerning the environment and development with other countries and international organizations, earnestly implementing international environmental conventions, and seeking scope for China's role in global environmental affairs.
Since the beginning of the 1990s the international community and various countries have made an important step forward in exploring solutions to problems of the environment and development. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in June 1992, made sustainable development the strategy for common development in the future, and this won wide acclaim from the governments of all countries represented at the conference.
In August 1992, shortly after that conference, the Chinese government put forward ten major measures China was to adopt to enhance its environment and development, clearly pointing out that the road of sustainable development was a logical choice for China now and in the future.
In March 1994 the Chinese government approved and promulgated China's Agenda 21 -- White Paper on China's Population, Environment, and Development in the 21st Century. This document, proceeding from the country's specific national conditions in these three respects, put forward China's overall strategy, measures and program of action for sustainable development. The various departments and localities also worked out their respective plans of action to implement the strategy for sustainable development.
At its Fourth Session in March 1996 China's Eighth National People's Congress examined and adopted the Ninth Five-Year Plan of the People's Republic of China for National Economic and Social Development and the Outline of the Long-Term Target for the Year 2010. Both the Plan and Outline take sustainable development as an important strategy for modernization, thus making it possible for the implementation of the strategy of sustainable development in the course of China's economic construction and social development.