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SEPA: Handling Pollution Vital to China's Progress

The environmental situation in both China's coastal and inland areas continues to be a worry, State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) Minister Xie Zhenhua warned Thursday.


At a press conference held in Beijing before World Environment Day, June 4, Xie said the main environmental problems in the country are the continuing heavy discharge of pollutants, the nature of pollution changing as new problems arise and the shrinkage in ecological biodiversity.


According to the SEPA's report on China's pollution problems in 2003, the quality of China's environment changed little in comparison with the previous year.


Air quality attained the national standard in 142, or 41.7 percent, of the 340 monitored cities, a rise of 7.9 percent  from 2002. The number of cities with heavy pollution declined 4.4 percent, to 91, or 27.0 percent of monitored cities.


Among the country's seven major rivers, pollution in the Haihe, Liaohe and Huaihe rivers decreased slightly, but the Songhuajiang and the Pearl rivers were even more polluted. Listed from the most to the least polluted, the seven rivers were: Haihe, Liaohe, Huanghe, Huaihe, Songhuajiang, Yangtze and Pearl.


Pollution of the Yellow Sea shore area was worse, while water quality of the Bohai and East China seas had improved but was still heavily polluted. Water quality along the shore of the South China Sea remained unchanged. Overall, the area of polluted seas dropped from 174,000 square kilometers in 2002 to 142,000 square kilometers.


Xie said environmental authorities will promote a circular economy that is based on the most efficient use of resources and the most effective protection of the environment.


Companies are encouraged to adopt clean production methods, while provinces and cities should develop into "eco-provinces" and "green cities." The people should learn to lead energy-efficient lives.


Above all, economic polices should encourage recycling and the reuse of resources, Xie said.


Environmental supervision and management must be strengthened and the various regions and cities must consider the carrying capacity of the environment when planning their economic development, Xie said.


The focus of work will be on major regions that are densely populated and are experiencing rapid economic development, such as the "three rivers and three lakes region" around the Huaihe, Haihe and Liaohe rivers and Taihu, Chaohu and Dianchi lakes. It includes portions of 11 provinces and Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai municipalities.


Other efforts will include renovating systems, encouraging public participation, conducting research, and upgrading the ability of governments at all levels to protect the environment.


(China Daily June 4, 2004)



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