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Legislation Stepped up to Promote Circular Economy

China is stepping up legislation to promote a recycling-based economy, which experts say is essential in changing a growth pattern characterized by high input and low yield.

A recycling-based economy, which would feature more efficient energy consumption, lower emissions and higher returns, would ensure the decade-long fast economic and social development with the lowest possible costs and least damage to the environment, according to experts from around the world attending an APEC conference in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

China has been plagued by energy shortages, pollution and other damage to its environment after rapid economic growth since the 1980s.

"It's time for us to find a more efficient and environment-friendly mode of economic growth," said Mao Rubai, chairman of the Environment and Resource Protection Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature. "We need to build a strong legal framework to boost the circular economy -- and this has dominated lawmakers' agenda."

According to Mao, China has enacted an environmental protection law as well as laws on the prevention of air and water pollution and solid waste pollution to safeguard its environment.

"China was the first country in the world to implement a law promoting clean production in January 2003," he said. "The law has played a major role in the reducing the pollution emitted in the course of industrial production."

In February this year, China's top legislature approved a law on renewable energy, which will go into effect on January 1, 2006.

But Mao said prevailing Chinese laws still lack specific clauses pertaining to the development of recycling-based economy. "We have to step up the legislation process."

To that end, experts say China may refer to the experience of the developed countries, Japan and Germany, for example.

"Both countries made laws to create a recycling-based economy, and were successful," said Zhang Lijun, vice director of State Environmental Protection Administration.

Djimi Takato, a Japanese coordinator for APEC's recycling-based economy project, echoed his agreement.

"We owe a lot to our comprehensive legal framework," said Djimi Takato. "We have laws promoting the recycling of resources and solid waste as well as laws that demand grocery stores and shoppers to recycle containers and packing as much as they can."

Japan's experience will be applicable in China, said Zhang. "We can start with certain provinces and municipalities, draft laws on environment-friendly consumption to promote the recycling of all resources -- packing, building materials and household electric appliances."

If the move proves effective in these localities, China will be ready to enact a basic law on building a recycling-based economy, said Zhang.

Such a law, said Prof. Xian Chunl in with the Ningxia University, will remove many obstacles that presently hinder the country's building of a recycling society, such as shortages of funds and a lack of market stimulation.

He said the development of a recycling-based economy is also inline with the "scientific concept on development" urged by the central government.

China's energy supply bottleneck has forced a growing number of officials and economists to double-check the costs, economic and otherwise, of the booming economy, and inspired them to search for ways to maintain coordinated and sustainable social and economic development.

The two-day APEC conference on the recycling-based economy and China's western development opened Friday.

(Xinhua News Agency June 5, 2005)

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