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Over 95% of Chinese Worry About Environment
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A recent survey jointly conducted by the China Youth Daily and www.qq.com shows that Chinese people are increasingly worried and concerned about environment issues now than in the past, the China Youth Daily reported on November 20.

The issue of most concern to the public was water pollution, accounting for 87.1 percent of 6,653 surveyed. It was followed by air pollution (85.6 percent), consumer and industrial waste (73.0 percent), food pollution (63.0 percent), vegetation decrease and desertification (57.2 percent), and noise pollution (52.1 percent).

People enjoy the wonderful flowers in the West Lake Park of Fuzhou, Fujian Province.

According to the survey, 82.4 percent people were deeply worried about acid rain. When asked about their views on acid rain, 34.8 percent were "shocked" and 63.1 percent said "it was as expected".

"There are sandstorms every year. We were even hit by tons of yellow earth this spring. So we are not surprised by acid rain here in Beijing," said a netizen.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau published acid rain monitoring statistics on November 14, indicating that the average acid rain frequency in Beijing in July-August period stood at 5.9 percent, a marked drop from the previous two years. "Beijing is not an acid rain-stricken area," the administration announced, refuting the rumor that Beijing is frequently stricken by acid rain.

However, the announcement still cannot alleviate people's worries. According to the survey, 83.2 percent said that "the increase of acid rain means that air pollution is getting more serious."

About 94.8 percent of the surveyed held the view that "China's environment has worsened in the past two years" with only 1.1 percent saying the problem "is not very serious".

According to a People's Daily report on April 14, 2005, the economic losses caused by acid rain in southwest China's Sichuan Province had reached 11.3 billion yuan (US$1.44 billion) annually. The Guangming Daily reported on August 2, 2005 that emissions had become the first air pollution source in China with the country's carbon monoxide discharge volume ranking first in the world. The Xinhua News Agency reported on November 29, 2005 that China's agricultural products are suffering from pan-dimensional (water-soil-air) pollution. The China News Service reported on December 27, 2005 that underground water in 90 percent of Chinese cities was polluted by organic or inorganic wastes.

Some netizens described China's environmental issue as "spreading from local to nationwide."

A recent survey conducted by the Shanxi Provincial Environmental Bureau shows that 91.95 percent of mayors and city-level officials think increased environmental investment may affect economic development. That "who will pay the taxes if polluting enterprises' chimneys are pushed over?" reflects a common worry.

Generally, the Chinese government prioritizes environmental protection nowadays. Ma Kai, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) promised at a national energy-saving working conference held on July 26 to comprehensively appraise the energy consumption index and the assessment systems of local economic and social development. The Organization Department of the Central Committee of the CPC also issued documents placing energy consumption as one of the 22 assessment indexes measuring the performance of local governmental officials.

On November 7, the NDRC published the plan for local governments to decrease energy consumption indexes during the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010). According to the plan, the GDP energy consumption level will be 20 percent per unit lower than that of the 10th Five-Year Plan period.

Zhou Shengxian, minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, told the Beijing News in April that those officials disregarding pollution prevention and control or failing to fulfill the annual plan will not be promoted.

Among those surveyed, 80.2 percent think the government is the first responsible for China's environment. Some 70.7 percent think in recent years local governments have attached great importance to economic development while neglecting environmental protection. Some 20.6 percent think the government has done its best but without obvious effects.

(China.org.cn by Li Jingrong, November 27, 2006)

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