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Fujian to Be New Eco-province
East China's Fujian Province plans to invest more than 37 billion yuan (US$4.5 billion) during the 2002-05 period to develop into an "ecological province."

The total cost of the plan, from 2002 to 2020, is estimated at 71.6 billion yuan (US$8.6 billion).

An "ecological province" would mean that the province achieves a balance in society, economy and the environment and sustainable development, said Fujian Governor Xi Jinping in Beijing on Sunday.

The province submitted its plan on Sunday to a group of experts for discussion and professional advice.

Xi said Fujian will give full support to the development of environmentally friendly industries.

The province will continue to improve the environment so that people can live cleanly and comfortably, he said.

Efforts will be also made to arouse the general public's awareness of ecological protection and gain their support for the "ecological province," he said.

Fujian has its advantages in developing itself into an "ecological province," said one of the experts Chen Shupeng, who is a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The province is abundant in water resources and vegetation and the forestry industry in the province is well developed, Chen said.

According to Xi, 60.5 per cent of the province is covered by forests, which ranks the first in China, and the quantity of water resources in the province ranks eighth.

Chen said the province's plan to be an "ecological province" is well thought out. "It is clearly said in the plan what different regions in the province should do and what should be achieved by a certain time."

The plan also pays much attention to key issues such as industrial pollution and the side effects of urbanization, he said.

Fujian, along with Northeast China's Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces and South China's Hainan Province are China's four pilot "ecological provinces."

Nearly 400 counties and cities nationwide have also restructured local industries and improved the environment after they were designated as "pilot ecological districts" by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

Such attempts are effective in dealing with China's ecological problems, said SEPA Minister Xie Zhenhua on Sunday.

For example, Hainan Province, which started the development of becoming an "ecological province" earlier than others, has sought a win-win route for both environmental protection and social and economic development, he said.

Despite the great achievements in the reform and opening up policies, China's environment had paid a high price over the past years due to unsustainable methods of development, Xie said.

"If such methods were not changed, the problem of environmental pollution in China would be worse in the years to come with the rapid industrialization and urbanization," he added.

(China Daily August 27, 2002)

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