III. The Prevention and Control of Industrial Pollution
and the Comprehensive Improvement of the Urban Environment
The Chinese government regards prevention and control of industrial pollution as the focal point of environmental protection. Thanks to unremitting efforts over the past 20-odd years, China has made great progress in this regard.
-- Changes in the strategy for the prevention and control of industrial pollution have been effected. In the 1970s efforts to prevent and control industrial pollution in China mainly concentrated on the control of point sources. In the 1980s China carried out prevention and control of industrial pollution in a comprehensive way through the readjustment of irrational industrial distribution, the overall industrial structure and the product mix in combination with technical transformation, strengthened environmental management and other policies and measures. In the course of founding the socialist market economic system in the 1990s China has changed its traditional development strategy, promoted clean production and embarked on the sustainable development road. In guiding concept for the prevention and control of industrial pollution, ``three changes'' have been decided upon, i.e., regarding basic strategy, China will gradually change its strategy of end-of-pipe pollution control into pollution control during the whole process of industrial production; with respect to the control of pollutant discharge, concentration control will be replaced by a combination of the control of concentration and that of total quantity; and with regard to pollution control methods, focus on the control of scattered point sources will be replaced by a combination of centralized and scattered controls.
-- Policy and legislation for preventing and controlling industrial pollution have taken initial shape as a coherent system. In order to effectively prevent and control industrial pollution, the Chinese government has drawn up three major policies for environmental protection, i.e., ``putting prevention first and combining prevention with control,'' ``making the causer of pollution responsible for treating it'' and ``intensifying environmental management.'' In addition, it has drawn up the policy on the comprehensive utilization of resources, the policy on preventing and controlling industrial pollution in combination with technical transformation, the policy on over"iall improvement of the urban environment, the policy on environmental protection technology, and the policy on environmental protection industries. The laws and regulations on environmental protection that have been promulgated include explicit provisions on the prevention and control of industrial pollution. Local governments at all levels have worked out local policies on the prevention and control of industrial pollution in accordance with their actual conditions.
-- Enterprise environment supervision and management have been reinforced. The Chinese government has promoted the enforcement of the environmental impact assessment system and the ``three-at-the-same-time'' system (i.e., facilities for preventing and controlling environmental pollution and destruction shall be planned, constructed and put into use at the same time as the main production projects). These steps have played remarkable roles in controlling new pollution sources. The nation's environmental impact assessment rate of construction projects above the county level and the implementation rate of the three-at-the-same-time'' system have reached, respectively, 60.8 percent and 87.3 percent. By the end of 1995, 480 cities and 77,000 enterprises had made pollution discharge declarations and registrations; 240 cities had issued a total of 16,000 pollutant discharge licences to 14,000 enterprises. Since 1979 China has collected 24.7 billion yuan in pollutant discharge fees.
-- Measures for preventing and controlling industrial pollution have gradually been perfected. First, China has completed a great number of pollution-control projects through the readjustment of the industrial structure and product mix, and promoted clean production through technical transformation. Chemical, metallurgical, light, machine-building, power and construction materials industries have actively adopted clean production, speeded up technical transformation and firmly eliminated a large amount of equipment and products characterized by heavy pollution and high consumption of energy and materials. Consequently, industrial production has increased for several years running, the discharge of pollutants has declined steadily and the economic returns of enterprises have gone up year by year. The Jilin Chemical Industrial Company is an old enterprise, but for many years it has relied on progress in science and technology to carry out technical transformation of its production equipment which used to cause a serious waste of resources and produced a large amount of pollution. As a result, it has fundamentally eliminated pollution from various chemicals. Second, in combination with the comprehensive improvement of the urban environment and regional reconstruction, a number of enterprises featured by heavy pollution have been closed down, moved away or otherwise put under control, thus alleviating the trend of pollution in some regions. The Beijing Municipal Government closed down the heavily polluting south section of the Special Steel Factory of the Capital Iron and Steel Company, eliminating a large pollution source in the city proper. Shanghai has strengthened the prevention and control of pollution in the upper reaches of the Suzhou and Huangpu rivers and in major urban districts, so that pollution in some of the districts has been brought under control. Third, the dynamics of setting deadlines for eliminating pollution have been reinforced. Since 1978 the Chinese government has announced two groups of scheduled pollution-control projects, totaling 367, and local governments have designated 220,000 pollution-control projects, which have basically been completed. Fourth, the prevention and control of pollution is developing toward regional and river valley comprehensive improvement. Since the late 1980s the Chinese government has adopted measures to comprehensively alleviate air pollution in Benxi and Baotou cities, and water pollution in the Baiyangdian Lake and Huaihe River drainage basins. In 1995 the Chinese government promulgated the Pro"ivisional Regulations on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution in the Huaihe River Drainage Area, and the work is being actively carried out in accordance with the plan. Fifth, efforts have been stepped up to save energy and reduce consumption. The capability to treat waste gas, waste water and industrial residue (the ``three wastes'') has been enhanced and the comprehensive utilization rate of these materials has been increased. During the Eighth Five-Year Plan period (1991-95) energy consumption for every ten thousand yuan worth of the gross domestic product (GDP) decreased from 5.3 tons of the standard coal in 1990 to 3.94 tons in 1995, saving a grand total of 358 million tons of the standard coal, or an annual averge economization rate of 5.8 percent. In 1995 the waste water treatment rate of the industrial enterprises above the county level all over the country reached 76.8 percent; the smoke and dust removal rate of waste gas from burning fuel, 88.2 percent; waste gas purification rate from production processes, 68.9 percent; and the comprehensive utilization rate of industrial solid waste, 43 percent. Output value attained through the comprehensive utilization of the industrial ``three wastes'' came to 19 billion yuan. Starting in 1983, Li Shuang"iliang, a retired worker of the Taiyuan Iron and Steel Company, and 20 other retired workers spent 10 years removing a huge slag heap, thus eliminating a serious, long-standing pollution source of the Taiyuan Iron and Steel Company. The slag was utilized in a comprehensive way, with 900,000 tons of waste iron and steel worth 160 million yuan recovered.
China is a country with coal as its main energy source. Seventy percent of the smoke and dust in the air and 90 percent of the sulfur dioxide emission come from burning coal. As a result, the cities with concentrated industries and populations suffer from serious air pollution. Acid rain has occurred, and the situation has gone from bad to worse in some regions and cities. The Chinese government has adopted some measures, such as developing clean coal technology and clean-combustion technology, and collecting sulfur dioxide emission fees, to control acid rain. A long-term study by Chinese experts on the issue of acid rain proves that the precursors of acid rain generated from the emission source in Chinese mainland are mainly transported within Chinese territory, and the acid rain is mainly in the areas south of the Yangtze River, in regions east of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and in the Sichuan Basin.
Like other developing countries, China's per capita energy consumption level and the emitted sulfur dioxide are much lower than the world average level at present, and it will remain so by the end of this century. According to the Framework Convention on Climatic Changes, China is under no specific obligation to limit the emission of carbon dioxide. However, mindful of its responsibility for protection of the global climate, China follows the principle of attaching equal importance to economization on energy and expansion of the energy industry, striving to raise its energy utilization efficiency and to readjust its energy structure. While appropriately developing nuclear power, China spares no effort to develop hydroelectric power and to strengthen research into and exploitation of geothermal power, solar energy, wind energy, oceanic energy and other new energy sources, so as to reduce the green-house gas emission.
Since the initiation of the policies of reform and opening to the outside world, China's GNP has quadrupled, but the growth of the emission of pollutants is clearly slower than the economic growth. Some environmental quality indices of some regions and cities have basically remained stable, and some localities have made improvements to a certain extent. In spite of this, China's industrialization is still in the primary stage of development, with a low level of modernized management. Its industrial distribution and structure need to be further readjusted. With comparatively backward equipment and production technology, the pre"ivention and control of industrial pollution remain an arduous task of environmental protection in China.
The Chinese government has always considered the cities as key points in environmental protection work. In the past 10-odd years China has speeded up urbanization. In 1980 the urban population in China totaled 191.4 million, a figure which rose to 351.71 million in 1995. In 1980 China had 223 administratively designated cities, which went up to 640 in 1995. The urbanization level increased from 19.39 percent in 1980 to 28.85 percent in 1995. Just like other countries, the issue of environmental pollution has also appeared in the course of China's urbanization. Therefore the Chinese government has adopted effective measures to control environmental pollution and done its best to improve the quality of the urban environment.
-- Drawing up overall city plans and readjusting the layout of urban functions. By the end of 1995 each of the 640 cities in China had worked out its own overall city plan. So had each of the 31,559 administratively designated towns. In accordance with the Law on City Planning, while working out an overall city plan, the city must include in the plan details of environmental protection, such as protecting and improving the city's ecological environment, and preventing and controlling pollution and other public hazards. In light of the requirements of the overall planning, many cities, while transforming the old areas and developing new ones, have, in accordance with the city's function zoning, readjusted the industrial layout, strengthened the prevention and control of industrial pollution, changed the situation in which factories and residents share the same areas, controlled urban environmental pollution caused by production and in people's daily lives, and constructed a large number of residential quarters with reasonable layout and complete social services. In addition, China has designated 52 key environmental protection cities, and put 99 leading national-level historical and cultural cities under special protection.
-- Strengthening the construction of infrastructure and improving the capability to prevent and control pollution. At present, 68.4 percent of urban residents in China use gas for fuel and heating; the centralized disposal rate of urban sewage is 20 percent; the innocurity rate of urban garbage and fecal disposal is 45.4 percent; and the afforestation rate is 23.8 percent. In 1994 Beijing invested 15.13 billion yuan in the construction of urban infrastructure, of which over five billion yuan was used to construct environmental improvement facilities. It built the Gaobeidian Sewage Treatment Plant, with a daily handling capacity of 500,000 tons, and the large-scale Datun Garbage Transfer Station and Ahsuwei sanitary landll, thus greatly improving Beijing's environment overall.
-- Comprehensive improvement of the urban environment and improving the quality of the urban environment. Since 1989 the Chinese government has promoted the urban environment comprehensive improvement examination system throughout the country. The state and the governments at the provincial level have carried out examinations in 37 key cities and other 330-plus cities. The implementation of this system has enhanced the sense of responsibility of leaders at all levels for urban environmental protection, and such examinations have been included in the governments' work agendas. Hence a management system and operation mechanism for the comprehensive improvement of the urban environment under the unified leadership of mayors, carried out by different departments according to their respective divisions of responsibility and actively participated in by the broad masses of the people have taken initial shape. All cities in China have increased their investment in environmental improvement and speeded up relevant construction. Obvious results have been achieved. By 1995 China had constructed 11,333 sq km of smoke-and-dust control zones, and 1,800 sq km of up-to-standard noise-control zones, and increased public lawns by 490 million square meters. A large number of urban waterways, such as the Zhongdong River in Hangzhou, the Funan River in Chengdu, the Haihe River in Tianjin, the Suzhou River in Shanghai, the Qinhuai River in Nanjing and the Haohe River in Nantong, have been cleaned up on a large scale. Hence, the urban water environment has been improved.
Thanks to comprehensive urban environmental improvement and ecological construction, Benxi City in Liaoning Province has cleared up 21 ``smoke dragons,'' 17 polluted springs and two mounds of industrial residue which were notorious sources of pollution. It has also constructed a round-the-city forest park with an area of 220 sq km. Consequently, Benxi, which used to be known as one of ``the cities on earth which could not be seen from a satellite'' because of air pollution, has made a remarkable improvement in its environment.