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More Measures to Protect Environment Soon

The central government has pledged to step up the country's economic restructuring in the next few years to balance the demands of economic development and environmental protection, Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao said.

His comments were made last weekend at the 5th Meeting of the 2nd Phase of the China Council for International Co-operation on Environment and Development (CCICED), which ends today.

CCICED is an international consulting council ratified by the State Council in 1992.

It consists of 30 foreign environment experts, 25 senior Chinese officials and some noted domestic scientists.

The council holds a forum each year to discuss China's sustainable development and provides the Chinese Government with valuable suggestions for its decision-making.

Wen is president of the council.

He said that re-adjusting the country's economic structure - a major national goal - will "contribute much to the country's environmental protection."

The central government lists a series of environmental protection efforts in the country's 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05).

Within the next five years, the nation expects forests to cover 18.2 per cent of its land area, compared with the 16.5 per cent today.

The grass and forest coverage in urban areas is expected to reach an even higher level to 35 per cent.

Within five years, major pollutants discharged in the country will be reduced by 10 per cent from last year's levels.

Wen said efforts will be made to phase out backward equipments and techniques and shut down extensively run and heavily polluting industrial firms, while at the same time encouraging environmentally friendly high-tech and tertiary enterprises.

This process should be accelerated, Wen said.

The country's economic restructuring should include the development of organic and ecological agriculture, which helps reduce agricultural pollution, Wen said.

All attempts to restructure the economy rely on advanced science and technologies.

Wen, on behalf of the Chinese Government, urged all CCICED members to offer suggestions and technological support to the Chinese Government in restructuring the economy and improving the environment.

The country needs to maintain the momentum of a rapidly growing economy to keep improving people's living conditions and therefore ensure social stability.

At the same time, the government will spare no effort to put forward ecological construction and environmental protection to achieve the nation's sustainable development, Wen said.

(China Daily 10/15/2001)

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