The central government is getting more serious about developing the nation in line with a sustainable economic growth model.
The country's environmental watchdog, the State Environmental Protection Administration, is working together with the National Bureau of Statistics on an environmentally adjusted domestic product, or a green gross domestic product (GDP) system, that illustrates the interrelationship between the natural environment and the economy.
While conventional indicators of economic performance have failed to take into account the actual scarcity of natural resources, the new system will tabulate environmental and economic factors.
Furthermore, the green GDP will be taken as an important indicator in evaluating the work performances of local governments.
It is thought to be an urgent response from decision-makers to serious warnings given by nature.
This approach, though long overdue, is expected to halt the current growth mentality based on the excessive consumption of natural resources and serious environmental degradation.
It is true that China has outperformed many other countries in recording consecutively high GDP growth rates. It, however, has happened amid a great waste of resources and pollution.
As economic growth figures weigh heavily on the evaluation sheets of local officials, resources and the environment tend to be overlooked.
It means local economic development, to different extents, has slipped into a vicious cycle of serious pollution followed by expensive restoration projects.
As a developing country with a huge population, natural resources available for each person in China are far below the world average. For the sake of sustainable development, the nation cannot afford to follow an aggressive consumption mode.
After the adoption of the new assessment system, local governments will be motivated to readjust their economic structure and knock back projects with outdated technology that cause large amounts of waste and pollution.
(China Daily December 9, 2003)