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Protectionism Still a Barrier
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More efforts should be put into upgrading China's environment protection enforcement, says an article in the Beijing News. An excerpt follows:

The State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) announced recently that three regional supervision centers will be built in the northwest, northeast and southwest regions of the country. Together with the existing centers in east and South China, they will help enhance the environment protection enforcement system.

It is commonly known that local protectionism is the biggest problem threatening the environment protection enforcement. The funding and personnel matters of grass-roots environment protection departments are all restricted by local governments.

Law-breaking environment enterprises are often emboldened with the knowledge of strong backing from local governments, which are pursuing a higher gross domestic product (GDP). Under such a situation, the building of new regional supervision centers will help curb local protectionism and improve enforcement ability.

China has many environmental protection laws and regulations, but the law enforcement situation is not optimistic.

The state has vowed to make more efforts in this regard. An effective law enforcement system is to be completed during the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-10).

And the first important thing should be the construction of strong organizations and personnel, which are the basics for law enforcement.

In developed countries, environment protection enforcement departments are often powerful. They have big and strong teams to investigate pollution cases and provide consulting and suggestions. Citizens can get timely aid when they are harmed by pollution. It is a common practice to set up trans-regional environment enforcement organizations.

The improvement of environment protection enforcement also depends on the power possessed by the enforcers. At present, their power is limited and the punishment is ineffective. Environment protection departments cannot shut down law-breaking companies with their own authorities but have to depend on other organizations and local governments.

The road to improving the country's environment protection enforcement is a long one.

(China Daily May 16, 2006)

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