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Int'l Cooperation on Environment Protection to Be Expanded

China will carry out wider international cooperation in environmental protection to ensure that the country -- the world's most populous -- embarks on a path of sustainable development, the top Chinese environmental official said in Beijing Wednesday.


"China has always sought cooperation with the international community on environment protection and sustainable development, and will continue to do so in the future," said Xie Zhenhua, minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), at the Fifth Green China Forum.


The Chinese government attached "special importance" to the proposals and suggestions by foreign experts and to drawing on the experience of other countries in sustainable development, he said.


Xie pointed to the fact that the founding of the China Council for International Cooperation on the Environment and Development (CCICED), China's international advisory body on environment and development decision-making, 13 years ago had played an important role in the country's development.


"This is because many of the proposals and suggestions set forth by foreign experts of the council have been adopted by the Chinese government," he said.


China has participated in all international conventions related to environment and has acceded to more than 30 conventions on environment, having signed cooperative agreements on environmental protection with more than 30 countries.


However, Xie noted that international cooperation means both "concerted action to tackle environmental problems on the international and regional level and the respect of different development approaches adopted by countries in line with their actual national conditions."


He called on developed nations to take on more responsibility for global environmental protection and facilitate the transfer of advanced technology to developing countries. "Developed nations should also further reduce trade barriers set up under the excuse of environmental standards," he said.


The Green China Forum was established last October to provide a plat form for domestic and foreign environmental officials and experts to exchange ideas on China's sustainable development.


Among those attending the fifth forum are Catherine Day, director general of the Directorate General of the European Commission, Crispin Tickell, former British ambassador to the U.N., and Michael McElroy, director of the US-based Harvard University Center on the Environment.


"The idea of a 'Green China' is an appealing one," said Day at the forum, adding that the EU looks forward to working with China to help ensure that the country's future is green.


"The strength of EU-China relations today is the result of our growing mutual recognition of many similarities in approach and in the kind of problems we have to deal with," she said.


Three potential areas for EU and Chinese cooperation are energy, biodiversity and management of water resources, Day acknowledged.


The EU will shortly be launching a 30 billion euro project on biodiversity working with approximately 20 different international organizations to provide a variety of services ranging from national policy advice to farmers to improve land use and advice on alternative activities for farmers living close to protected areas, she said.


"We will be starting a 25 million euro project in cooperation with the World Bank in 2006 to help China implement the integrate driver basin management approach in the Yangtze and Yellow river basins and to help build a more coherent overall policy framework," she said.


Day will also attend the annual meeting of CCICED to be held here from Friday to Sunday.


(Xinhua News Agency October 28, 2004)

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