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More Investment for Environmental Protection
China will continue to increase its financial investment in eco-environmental protection and strengthen its policies in this field, said Chinese Minister of Finance Xiang Huaicheng on Thursday.

In his presentation at a workshop entitled "Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Environmental Protection in China", Xiang said China was among the leading countries in developing and implementing a strategy for sustainable development as a follow-upto the Rio UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992.

In line with the strategy, the nation's public finances at all levels have been dedicated to the promotion of environmental protection, particularly in recent years, Xiang said.

Statistics show that China has invested a total of 580 billion yuan (70 billion US dollars) in ecological and environmental protection in the 1998-2002 period.

Xiang said the Chinese government will continue to formulate and adjust fiscal policies related to environmental protection and actively explore market-oriented mechanisms for channeling social investment to environmental protection.

It will also reinforce its environmental protection cooperation with international organizations and multilateral development institutions, so as to attract more international resources, technologies and expertise in environmental protection, he said. In recent years, the Ministry of Finance of China has formulated and refined a series of rules and regulations governing the reform of the user-charge mechanism for sewage discharge, the introduction of fee-based services for sewage disposal and the comprehensive management of land marine resources.

In addition, the government seeks to encourage optimal use of resources and clean, green production methods through incentives such as taxation policies, Xiang said.

"Fiscal policies have been playing an increasingly important role in promoting the coordinated development of the economy, society and environment in China," Xiang said.

As the largest developing country in the world, China has adopted effective fiscal policies to achieve the dual goals of eradicating poverty and protecting the environment. Statistics from the Ministry of Finance show that, from 1998 to 2001, the central government invested 427 billion yuan (51 billion US dollars) to conserve the vegetation in central and western areas of China, encouraging local farmers to turn over-cultivated land back into woods and pastures by granting them allowances.

Xiang said China's eco-environmental projects are generating tangible results. By the end of 2001, 1.18 million hectares of farmland had been converted back into grassland and forests, and 1.1 million hectares of wasteland and barren mountains had been planted with trees and grasses.

He said China has also invested heavily in pollution control, ecological protection, water resource utilization and eco-technology promotion.

Xiang stressed that China will continue to participate in international cooperation and exchange, mobilize bilateral and multilateral concessional resources, and explore new funding mechanisms for environmental protection.

(People's Daily October 18, 2002)

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