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Circular Economy Enhances Development

National development officials will launch a wave of measures to make it possible for China to rapidly economically develop while no longer exhausting its natural resources.

At a national conference on the circular economy Tuesday, National Development and Reform Commission Minister Ma Kai said it is important and urgent for China to develop a so-called circular economy as insufficient resources in the country pose a greater difficulty.

The idea of circular economy has been a heated topic in China in recent years as experts point out the country's hastening economic development has been gained at the cost of its environment and resources.

The core of a circular economy is the highly efficient use and recycling of its resources. It features low consumption of energy, low emission of pollutants and high efficiency.

According to China's economic development plan, the nation's GDP will quadruple from its 2000 basis.

Even if resource consumption only doubles during the process, it will be difficult to ensure an adequate resource supply, Ma said.

The power shortages since the second half of last year have already rung the alert, he said.

Ma said conventional concepts and models of development must be discarded and replaced by the idea of sustainable development.

When the central government and local ones are making their development plans for the coming 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), they should adopt the ideas of a circular economy as a guidance, he said.

The legal system on a circular economy will be improved, he said. Laws and regulations, including the law on the promotion of a circular economy should be implemented quickly.

Although there are some laws and regulations in place, such as the Law on the Promotion of Clean Production, Ma said the current system fails to meet the demands required by the development of a circular economy.

Policies that are conducive to the development of a circular economy should be set up and relevant science and technology should be studied.

In major sectors and selected regions, a circular economy will be developed on a trial basis.

Ma said the commission will give more financial support to major projects involving a circular economy.

He called on enterprises to seek a balance between their business objectives and environmental protection and set up resource-saving systems.

In addition, it is also necessary to raise public awareness and strengthen co-ordination between different departments, Ma said.

By 2010, the country will set up sound legal, policy and technological innovation systems for the development of a circular economy, Ma said. A system of assessment index for a circular economy will be established and mid- and long-term strategic objectives and periodic promotion plans be made.

The efficiency of major industrial sectors in resource use will be raised and a number of circular economy-oriented industrial parks and energy-saving cities take shape.

In addition, the discharge of pollutants will be noticeably reduced by then, he said.

Zhang Jianyu, a visiting scholar with Tsinghua University, said although building circular economies is a good thing, there are problems lying behind the idea.

In China, the concept is being promoted by the government from the beginning while some basic elements, including laws and regulations, the enforcement of such laws and regulations, as well as the sense of responsibility of enterprises, are still being established and improved.

(China Daily September 29, 2004)

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