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Despite Efforts, Environment Still Fragile

Despite enhanced efforts to protect the environment and progress made in construction of environmental projects, the overall picture contains many problems and the environment still vulnerable.


Vice Minister Zhu Guangyao of the State Environmental Protection Administration made these remarks at a press conference sponsored by the State Council Information Office in Beijing on March 25.


Zhu said the most serious problems include overutilization of grasslands, serious erosion, severe pollution in densely populated areas, food safety, reduction and destruction of biodiversity resulting from the intrusion of alien species, and the loss of some ecological functions.


The Chinese government considers environmental preservation and protection very important, said Zhu, and has set out four principles for carrying out the tasks at hand. Priority is to be given to prevention and protection; eco-conservation and eco-development are to be given equal emphasis; those who exploit and use natural resources will be the ones who protect and pay for them; and respect must be given to the laws of nature as well as those of economics, and development must be scientific.


Three levels of necessary environmental protection have been defined in order to focus on the areas that need it most. “Saving protection” is to be employed in the most damaged areas; “enforced protection” in resource development zones; and “active protection” in areas that are well preserved.


The new State of the Environment: 2003 report, said Zhu, reflects that air quality reached Grade II in 41.7 percent of all cities, a 7.9 percent improvement from the previous year.


However urban air pollution remained a serious issue. Zones affected by acid rain remained stable on the whole, but pollution in some parts of Hunan, Zhejiang and Jiangxi provinces worsened.


The pollution of the Haihe, Liaohe, and Huaihe rivers decreased slightly, but it rose in the Songhua and Pearl rivers. Offshore pollution in the Yellow Sea grew worse. Although water quality in the offshore areas of the Bohai and East China seas improved slightly, pollution there remains serious. The quality of water in the South China Sea stayed level with the previous year.


Urban noise pollution was basically under control in 2003, with more than half of the cities and urban areas enjoying a reasonably good acoustic environment. Approximately 80 percent of the cities reported relatively good road traffic acoustic environmental quality. However, noise pollution remained one of the environmental problems strongly perceived by urban residents.


(China.org.cn March 25, 2004)

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