Six enterprises in east China's Zhejiang Province published a letter of apology in a local newspaper on Thursday, saying they are sorry for polluting the environment and would rectify the situation.
And at the same time, 23 factories in southwest China's Sichuan Province had shut down or suspended production for failures in pollution control.
The remorseful enterprises in Zhejiang included two paper mills, two electroplating factories and two printing and dyeing factories. They were ordered to apologize to the public by the municipal bureau of environment protection of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang. They were also fined.
Dai Beijun, chief of the provincial environmental watchdog, said the apology order "is meant to shame pollution enterprises and their executives and ensure that the public know what happens. We want to tell the enterprises that the public detest pollution".
In the Hangzhou Daily letter, legal representatives of the six enterprises said "we have been found discharging excessive pollution recently. This is because we had not paid enough attention to environmental protection nor fully obeyed the law and regulations, and the pollution treatment facilities were not operating properly".
They said "we sincerely apologize to all the people in Hangzhou and are willing to accept criticism and advice".
They also promised to suspend production and invest more in pollution control, so as to meet related requirements by the end of next month.
The chief of the provincial environmental watchdog said they were planning to implement the measure of ordering polluting enterprises to apologize around the whole province.
Polluters shut down
Meanwhile, 23 factories in southwest China's Sichuan Province had shut down or suspended production for failures in pollution control and another power plant is scheduled to shut down at the end of this month, announced the provincial environment watchdog on Thursday.
The closed facilities, which number 13, include power plants and cement factories, said Gu Shengwen, deputy director of the Sichuan Environmental Protection Bureau. The other 10 facilities decided to suspend operations after realizing it was impossible to meet the government's requirements, Gu added.
At the beginning of the year, Sichuan ordered 200 facilities to either control pollution, which meant meeting certain requirements by certain deadlines, or face closure.
China faces the challenge of environmental deterioration amid its rapid economic development. According to the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), sulfur dioxide emissions in 2005 were 27.8 percent higher than in 2000. During that same period, chemical oxygen demand (COD), a major index of water pollution, fell only 2.1 percent.
Water pollution has been worsening as well: 26 percent of surface water is totally unusable, 62 percent is unsuitable for fish and 90 percent of the rivers running through cities are polluted.
China will invest 1.35 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) each year for the next three years in environmental protection, according to a five-year environmental protection plan for 2006-2010 that was published last month.
In 2005, China spent 238.8 billion yuan (US$31.8 billion) on environmental protection, accounting for 1.31 percent of that year's GDP.
(Xinhua News Agency December 29, 2007)