Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has called for "unremitting efforts" to stop the spread of deserts and to ensure sustainable economic and social development.
Wen told a national meeting on desertification prevention and treatment, held in Beijing on March 26 and 27, that fighting the spread of deserts and minimizing their impact was a long-term and arduous task.
He called on officials and the public in desert areas to continue their battle against desertification guided by the scientific concept of development.
Wen warned of the grave challenges China faced, saying desert areas now account for one-fifth of the country's total land area.
He stressed the importance of research into and application of desertification treatment technologies.
Addressing the same meeting, Vice Premier Hui Liangyu called for efforts to protect and increase vegetation to rein in the expansion in desert areas.
"We should regard desertification treatment as a major task of great importance on economic and social development, the improvement of the ecology and people's livelihoods in desert areas," Hui said.
(Xinhua News Agency March 28, 2007)