With the promulgation of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution, the Law on Clean Production and a series of related state and local rules and regulations, industrial pollution and urban environmental pollution have been somewhat alleviated. In 2000, 16 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities fulfilled all the state control targets of discharge of 12 major pollutants (sulfur dioxide, smoke and dirt, etc.), and 97.7 percent of China’s 238,000 enterprises causing industrial pollution achieved the standard discharge level. So far, 84,000 small enterprises in 15 categories which used to cause serious pollution have been closed down. In addition, a number of small coal mines, iron and steel works, cement factories, glass factories and thermal power plants, which adopted backward technologies, wasted resources and caused environmental pollution, and were unable to ensure production safety, have been winnowed out.
Progress has also been made in water pollution control. The annual chemical oxygen demand in the Huaihe River has dropped from 1.5 million tons before the pollution control to 480,000 tons, and the aggravation of water pollution in the valley has been basically controlled. In the Taihu Lake valley, over 90 percent of discharge of industrial pollution sources have attained the required standard. In the Dianchi Lake valley, as much as 60 percent of city sewage are treated, and consequently the quantity of algae in Caohai Lake in summer has been reduced remarkably. The water quality of Chaohu Lake is close to the planned target. Plans are being made for pollution control in the valleys of the Haihe and Liaohe rivers.
In areas that suffer from pollution of sulfur dioxide and acid rains, 175 cities have made plans for prevention and treatment of sulfur dioxide pollution, greatly reducing the frequency of acid rains in the cities.
Clean Car Action is an air-cleaning project implemented jointly by the Ministry of Science and Technology and related ministries and commissions. The first group of cities covered by the project include Beijing Shanghai, Chongqing and Xi’an. The project aims to develop clean cars by substituting liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for petroleum as fuel and controlling exhaust emission. Meanwhile, a huge project to transport natural gas from western China to the eastern coastal areas, which was begun in 2000, will guarantee sufficient supply of gas for north China and the eastern coastal areas. A pipeline with a total length of 4,200 km will be laid from Xinjiang to Shanghai, and all the areas along the pipeline will benefit from it.
According to the plan, by 2005, the total volume of discharge of major pollutants throughout the country will have been reduced by 10 percent as against 2000, of which the discharge of sulfur dioxide will have dropped by 20 percent, and the centralized treatment rate of city sewage will have reached 45 percent. By that time, the environment pollution in most areas will have been alleviated, the environment quality in key cities and areas improved, and the ecological deterioration brought under control.