China saw improved urban air quality in 2003, with over 40 percent of cities recording air quality reaching the national air quality standard of Grade II, increasing 7.9 percentage points over that of the previous year. According to a communiqué released by the State Environmental Protection Administration ("SEPA") in March 2004 that covered the country's environmental quality in aspects of urban air, major river basins, acid rain, offshore areas and urban acoustic environment. In the other areas, China maintained its environmental quality nationwide in 2003 basically at the level of the previous year.
In 2002, the amount of solid industrial waste produced throughout China was 945.09 million tons, or 57.63 million tons more than the previous year. Of that number, 26.35 million tons was discharged, 2.59 million tons less than the previous year. The rate of recycling of solid industrial waste was 51.9 percent, about the same as the previous year; 136.38 million tons of household garbage was cleared and removed, 54.3 percent of it undergoing hazard-free treatment; 43.9 billion tons of industrial and urban household sewage was discharged, 0.6 billion tons higher than the previous year; 88.3 percent of discharged industrial sewage reached the required standards, which is 3.1 percentage points higher compared with the previous year.
To solve the problem of environmental pollution caused by more and more electronic waste, relevant departments of the state are formulating a system of electronic waste management that extends the responsibility of the producer. By requiring that the producer to take part or full responsibility for the environment where the electronic waste is abandoned, this system is meant to encourage producers to take in more consideration of the environment and to use more recyclable materials. At the beginning of 2004, Zhejiang Province and the city of Qingdao were designated as experimental sites for construction of a system of disposal and recycle of waste household electric appliances and electronic products.
As of 2003, the State Environmental Protection Administration now publishes annually an update on pollution control in national key river basins and sea areas. Since the Three Gorges Dam over the Yangtze River started to store water on June 10, 2003, the water quality in the reservoir area has not changed much from what it was previously. To ensure a safe water environment in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area, the government planned to invest about 40 billion yuan between 2001 and 2010 in control of water pollution in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area and the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.
By the end of 2004, Chongqing will have invested more than 9.8 billion yuan in construction of three sewage treatment projects. So far 16 sewage treatment plants and 12 garbage treatment plants in Chongqing have been put into operation. According to the Plan for Control of Water Pollution in Three Gorges Reservoir Area and the Upper Reaches of the Yangtze River, by 2005, the water quality at main control sections in the reservoir area and the upper reaches should have met the Grade III standard as stipulated in the Environmental Quality Standard for Surface Water. By 2010, the water quality at the main control sections in the reservoir area and upper reaches of the river should have met the Grade II standard as stipulated in the Environmental Quality Standard for Surface Water, and the eco-environment in the reservoir area should have been much improved.
The Taihu Lake Basin, which had been seriously polluted, started to receive a special "infusion" treatment from 2002 - clean river water was transported from the Yangtze River into this freshwater lake basin covering an area of 36,900 sq km. Since its beginning, this project has improved the water environment of the Taihu Lake Basin, benefiting a population of nearly 10 million.