The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), China's environment watchdog, vowed to take into account environmental elements when assessing its economic growth, the head of SEPA said here Wednesday.
"We will find out new economic development evaluation systems which take resource consumption and environmental losses into consideration," said Xie Zhenhua, director general of SEPA.
"We are also trying to convince the government to include environmental protection in the evaluation of local officials' performances," he said.
According to SEPA, many cities around China had acid rains last year, affecting 298 urban areas, more than half of all the cities monitored.
Most of China's large waterways, including its seven biggest rivers and 25 out of its 27 major lakes, were polluted, some seriously, SEPA said.
Coal, the major source to fuel China's economy, is the major source of pollution.
The World Bank estimates 400,000 people in China die each year from air pollution-related illnesses, mainly lung and heart diseases. It says direct damage costs China an annual 9-10 percent of its 1.4 trillion dollars GDP.
"Prominent problems vital to social stability and environmental safety, such as drinking water pollution, air pollution, acid rain and nuclear radiation must be seriously death with," Xie said
"We will make unswerving efforts to promote clean production and reduce polluted emissions," Xie said, adding that international cooperation also helps China to step onto a sustainable development path.
Last month, Yang Weimin, director of the Development and Planning Department under the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top policy regulator, warned that if the current pattern of development continues in an unsustainable manner, it will result in serious consequences, indicating that the government is gradually waking up to the environmental costs.
(Xinhua News Agency September 15, 2005)