Controlling pollutant emissions would continue to be a top task of environmental protection departments in China this year as the country sought a balance between development and environmental protection.
China's environmental protection chief Xie Zhenhua said comprehensive pollution controls would be enforced in 2003 to achieve further reductions in pollution.
The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) aimed this year to reduce total emissions of major pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, dust and industrial solid wastes, by over six percent from the year 2000.
"We must phase out in accordance with the law inefficient and heavily polluting enterprises and backward technologies. We must also enhance supervision of new projects to prevent them from damaging the environment," Xie, director of SEPA, told a meeting of provincial-level environment officials in Beijing Tuesday.
Clean production was expected to be adopted in more Chinese enterprises under a national law on promoting such methods and more facilities would be set up to dispose of urban sewage and garbage, he said.
Water and soil pollution due to the excessive use of fertilizers, pesticides and plastics in vast rural areas was another issue to be addressed, he said.
Despite the obvious decline of pollutant emissions in the past five years, China was still confronted by the contradiction of economic development and environmental protection, Xie said.
More than half of 470 Chinese cities, especially those with populations of one million or more, were smothered by dirty air caused by coal burning, auto emissions and industrial production, according to the National Center for Environmental Monitoring.
Pollution of surface water remained serious last year even though general water quality in major rivers improved compared with previous years, said the center's director Wan Bentai.
The Chinese government had decided to achieve a technology-intensive and highly-efficient industrialization with lower consumption of resources and less environmental pollution, which would provide a wider arena for environmental protection workers, Xie said.
(Xinhua News Agency January 8, 2003)