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State Devotes US$7.8 Billion to Environment Protection
The Chinese Government will allocate 65 billion yuan (US$7.8 billion) to protecting the environment during the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-05).

Xie Zhenhua, minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, made the announcement at a national conference on environmental protection that opened on Friday in Beijing.

The total need for investment in the industry in this period is 700 billion yuan (US$84.6 billion) -- 1.3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the corresponding period.

During the previous five-year plan (1996-2000), government and social investment hit 360 billion yuan (US$43.5 billion) and made up 0.93 percent of GDP during the period.

In the current five-year plan on environmental protection, which the State Council approved earlier this week, major pollutants in the country will be reduced by 10 percent compared with the 2000 level until the end of 2005.

The hope is that the air in major cities will improve significantly.

Xie said several environmental laws and rules would go into effect this year, including a law on environmental evaluation and stipulations on pollutant emission charges.

Xie called on officials nationwide to abide by the country's already existing environmental regulations.

He said the environmental protection department will conduct inspections this year to see if grass-roots officials are doing their jobs well. Corrupt officials will be caught and held accountable, he said.

Training courses will be offered to grass-roots officials, especially those in the country's vast western regions, to upgrade their working abilities, Xie said.

And educational programs, which have proved effective at raising the public's awareness about the environment, will be continued this year, the minister said.

A picture exhibition that traveled the country last year alerted people about environmental problems.

In addition to supervising activities, the environmental protection department should act as a coordinator for all other departments so that a joint effort can be made to protect the environment, Xie said.

"It does not work if the environmental protection department does its job alone," he said.

(China Daily January 14, 2002)

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