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Sustainability Key to Growth
Unremitting efforts will be made to combat environmental pollution in China so that sustainable development can eventually be realized, a top environmental protection official said.

Since China started the implementation of its 21st century agenda in 1994, the idea of sustainable development has been gradually introduced into the development programs of government at all levels.

From 1998 to 2002, the Chinese government invested a total of 580 billion yuan (US$70 billion) in environmental protection and the improvement of ecology, 1.8 times the total investment in the field from 1950 to 1997.

However, China's ambition to achieve sustainable development is greatly challenged by its large population, vulnerable ecological status and unbalanced regional economic development, said Wang Yuqing, vice-minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, in a recent interview with China Daily.

To address the pressing challenges, 700 billion yuan (US$84 billion) will be invested in the control of pollution and ecosystem protection during China's 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05), he said. During the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1996-2000), the investment totaled 360 billion yuan (US$43 billion).

According to Wang, a series of measures will be taken to reach the country's environmental goals.

The country will set up a comprehensive decision-making system, under which economic development can be achieved in harmony with environmental protection, he said.

Cooperation will be enhanced among different departments in solving key environmental problems and discussing environmental policies.

More environmental laws and regulations will be instituted in China, including those on the control of chemical pollutants and the control of radioactive pollution, Wang said.

China has enacted eight environmental protection laws, nine natural resource management laws, more than 30 administrative rules on environmental protection and natural resource management, and a number of laws and regulations related to sustainable development.

One of the latest moves came on Monday, when the law on environment impact assessment was passed during the 30th conference of the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress.

Wang said the country will strengthen the implementation of environment laws and regulations and strictly fight illegal environment activities.

Governments at all levels should increase their investment in environmental protection and at the same time preferential policies should be instituted in financing, taxation, and import and export trade to attract more domestic and foreign funds to the environmental sector, Wang said.

Research on environmental science and technology will be strengthened and environmental protection should utilize advancements in science and technology.

Wang said that the environmental protection industry market in the country will be standardized so that the development of the industry can be pushed forward.

(China Daily November 1, 2002)

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