East China's Zhejiang Province, one of the most prosperous regions on the Chinese mainland, has listed ecological construction as a compulsory course for leading officials on training programs.
Xi Jinping, secretary of the provincial committee of the Communist Party of China, said the move was designed to improve awareness of ecological and environmental protection among leading officials at various levels.
Leading officials normally take up training courses at Party schools or administrative colleges for periods of one month to a year, which mainly focus on politics and economics.
The economy of Zhejiang was expected to quadruple by 2020 using the figures for 2000 as the basis, and a rapid increase in discharges of industrial waste was predicted, which could lead to serious environmental problems unless the economic growth mode was improved, said Xi.
At a provincial meeting on turning Zhejiang into an ecologically sound province, Xi said governments should spend money on more active environmental protection projects.
"We will waste much more money if we just begin to do something for the environment when the ecological situation deteriorates," he warned.
He said that officials who paid little attention to the ecological environment were incompetent and people who ignored environmental protection were unaware of modern civilized behavior.
"That should be our consensus which would enable us to protect our living environment," said Xi.
With a population of about 50 million, the province reported 767 billion yuan (US$93.5 billion) in gross economic output last year, up 12.3 percent over the previous year with foreign trade totaling US$41.96 billion.
(Xinhua News Agency July 17, 2003)