For the first time, environment officials from China, Mongolia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea gathered in Beijing to find effective solutions for dust and sandstorms troubling their countries.
Since the late 1990s, almost every year from March to May, strong cold winds from Siberia blow up huge volumes of yellow dust from the Gobi desert in Kazakhstan, Mongolia and north China, sending it all the way to the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
"Dust and sandstorms (DSS) have become a severe environmental problem facing Northeast Asia. We need collaboration," Zhu Guangyao, vice director of China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), said in Beijing Monday at a high-level meeting on Northeast Asia's DSS held in Beijing.
For the first time, environment officials from China, Mongolia, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) gathered in Beijing to find effective solutions of DSS troubling their countries.
A monitoring and forecasting system is on top of the agenda, according to the participants. "We should share information to build a network covering the whole of Northeast Asia," said Zhu.
Joint research by Japan and China has identified DSS transportation, impact and development, said Kojima Toshiro, an official from Japan's Ministry of Environment.
Besides, a monitoring and forecasting system shared by China and ROK is undergoing construction, according to Park Young Woo, of ROK's Ministry of Environment.
"Just research on DSS cause, transportation, and monitoring technology is not enough. We need to transform the deserts in source countries," said Zhu Guangyao.
SEPA statistics show that DSS in Northeast Asia has increased in recent years due to continuous droughts in northwest China and Mongolia. In 2000, DSS happened 12 times. In 2001, the number surged to 32.
Zhu said ROK and China have launched a 5-million-dollar afforestation project in west China.
Besides, a joint DSS project between China and Mongolia has been endorsed by the Global Environment Facility, an international environmental program incubator.
"With these efforts, at least we can curtail their frequency and intensity," said Zhu.
(Xinhua News Agency December 16, 2003)