A dirty Suzhou Creek, running through China’s largest industrial and commercial center of Shanghai, has done little to improve the city’s environment over the past 80 years.
However, the scenery of the city has improved quite a lot as the creek has turned clear through a comprehensive treatment project.
In the 1920s, the areas along the Suzhou Creek were densely populated by texture, flour, chemistry and paper-making mills. Continual industrial pollution led to a deteriorating ecosystem in and around the creek, which later turned black and gave off an unpleasant odor.
The improvement of the ecological environment in the creek area can be seen from the fact that an increasing number of local citizens like strolling along the river.
Statistics show that with an annual economic growth rate of 12.3 percent in the 1990s, Shanghai reduced the discharge of industrial waste water by 40 percent due to effective pollution control measures.
The atmospheric content of sulfur dioxide and litho meteor has declined by 50 percent compared to five years ago. The damage of acid rain has also been reduced.
Shanghai’s atmospheric quality, measured by the newly enforced state standards, has been rated as first and second-class performance for over 100 days since the standards was introduced last July.
“A good eco-environment is needed for sustainable economic growth, and also for people’s welfare,” Huang Ju, secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, said.
“To be an international metropolis, Shanghai has to stress environmental protection,” Huang noted. The Shanghai government has intensified its efforts to abolish energy-consuming industries while stressing the development of six pillar industries of automobiles, telecommunication equipment, power plant equipment, iron and steel, the chemical industry and home-use electric appliances.
In recent years, the city has sped the development of new and hi-tech industries that have lower pollution emission rates, like information, biological medicine and new material, which have accounted for 12.8 percent of the city’s GDP.
Environmental improvement has added to the city’s economic progress. Approximately 25,000 overseas-funded enterprises have settled in Shanghai, bringing US$46 billion of overseas capital. In the first three quarters of the year, the city’s exports exceeded US$20 billion.
Service industries have made up 50 percent of the city’s GDP, up from 30 percent in 1990, and the city’s per capita GDP is US$4000, or five times that of the nation’s average.
Shanghai is implementing a comprehensive sustainable development plan to fine tune industrial and product structures, as it further improves the environment and the city’s ecosystem. Many hope that Shanghai will evolve into an international city with a harmonious development of the economy, the society and nature.
(People’s Daily 12/25/2000)