Top legislators are considering to take measures to combat the rampant spread of desert conditions in the country.
Lawmakers will make a preliminary deliberation on a draft law on desert prevention and treatment during the ongoing 20th session of the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature.
China has one of the most serious desert expansion problems in the world. More than 50,000 villages and hundreds of cities are plagued by sand blown by wind, and tens of thousands of farmers and herdsmen lost home to spreading desert, said Qu Geping, chairman of the NPC Environment and Resources Protection Committee.
China has lost some 100,000 square kilometers to desert conditions since the 1950s. Each year from 1985 to 1995, about 2,460 square kilometers of land turned into desert, Qu said.
Thirteen sandstorms hit a vast range of Chinese territory last spring, including northern regions to lower reaches of the Yangtze River, highlighting the nationwide problem. The sandstorms will become more frequent at shorter intervals and pick up strength if no immediate action is taken, Qu quoted environmental experts as saying.
Qu attributed the serious desert problem to careless land reclamation, over-grazing by cattle and sheep, excessive logging, intemperate digging of traditional Chinese medicinal material and unreasonable exploitation of water resources.
The draft law, proposed by Qu's committee and the NPC Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, aims to promote sustainable development by preventing and treating desert spreading and maintain ecological safety, he said.
It stipulates that governments at all levels are responsible for the control of desert spreading and that the central government should increase investment and create more favorable policies.
At the same time, the draft law is expected to enhance public awareness especially among farmers and herdsmen to prevent and control the environment, Qu said.
In other developments, proposed amendments to laws on pharmaceutical administration and the regional autonomy of ethnic minorities, read twice by top legislators in previous sessions, are expected to be put for vote when the three-day meeting ends on Wednesday.
The lawmakers will hold a third round of deliberations on the International Convention of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights signed by the Chinese government in 1997 before voting on whether to approve it.
They will also discuss the annual NPC plenary session, scheduled for March 5-15. The annual session is a major political event in China, offering debates on matters respecting the national economy and people's livelihood.
(China Daily 02/27/2001)