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Chinese Premier Warns of Tough Task Ahead in Environmental Protection Conference

China will face a tough task in environmental protection in the coming years as the country embraces urban development and a growing population, Premier Zhu Rongji warned.

Zhu was speaking at a recent national teleconference on the implementation of the government's environmental protection plan for the 10th five-year plan period (2001-2005).

He stressed that China must place more attention to environmental protection during the pursuit of fast and sustainable economic growth.

According to Zhu, China spent an impressive 360 billion yuan(about US$43.5 billion) on environmental protection during the ninth five-year plan period between 1996 and 2000.

As a result, the trend in environmental deterioration has been initially curbed in China as a whole, and the environment in some areas has been improving, the premier said.

But he admitted that in other areas, environmental pollution has gone from bad to worse.

Zhu stressed that governments at all levels must play a major role in environmental protection while all environmental protection authorities must improve their performance and not be lax in law enforcement.

Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration Xie Zhenhua, minister in charge of the State Economic and Trade Commission Li Rongrong and other senior officials also spoke at the conference.

(Xinhua News Agency January 9, 2002)

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