The Western media have neglected the positive impact China has on the environment outside the country, according to a report released by a high-profile think tank.
The report "Review and Perspective of the Environment and Development of China" was presented by a special task force of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) at its annual meeting over the weekend. The task force consists of leading experts from home and abroad on global environmental and associated sectors.
"Too much stress on the negative environmental externality will limit China's rights to development," the report says.
Since China's trade pattern is goods dominant, the result is often that products are exported while pollutants are left over, says the report. China is more affected by negative environmental impact whereas the positive environmental benefits it brings about to other countries are almost ignored, it adds.
The report says that imports of wastes used for raw materials such as steel scrap and waste paper have been on the rise in recent years. The amount of such waste totaled 33.08 million tons in 2004, a seven-fold increase from 4.58 million tons in 1996.
"China is the major venue of resource consumption and pollution as well as the main victim in the current international economic and trade pattern," says the report.
It suggests that when trade between China and its partners exerts an environmental impact, the responsibility should be borne by all parties including manufacturers, traders and consumers in the product chain.
For example, it has been alleged that China poses a threat to tropical forests by importing timber from Southeast Asian countries. But 70 percent of the timber is made into furniture and exported to the US and EU countries.
China's environmental impact on Southeast Asia is far more exaggerated than the economic benefits it brings to the region, the report notes.
"China has been playing its role as a global workshop in the past two decades," said Shen Guofang, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and core expert of the CCICED. "We import the raw material, produce, send the products abroad and keep the waste and pollution ourselves."
The situation is worsening as some heavily-polluting industries like iron and steel, construction materials and cement have been moved from Europe, the US and Japan.
"The shift of industry is also the shift of global pollutants," Shen said. "While they have less environmental pressure China has more. It's unfair to turn a blind eye to China's huge efforts in afforestation, water purification and emission reduction while stressing only the negative impact on the world."
(China Daily November 13, 2006)