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Urban Environment Set to Improve
China will strive to environmentally improve its large cities in the next few years, according to its top environmental protection official yesterday.

Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration Xie Zhenhua listed water problems, air pollution and the disposal of solid waste as top priorities to be tackled in the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-05).

He made the remarks during a seminar held on the sidelines of the 35th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank, focusing on the environmental impact resulting from the development of megacities.

"The Chinese Government attaches great importance to environmental protection in the process of urbanization," said Xie. "We try to integrate environmental protection and urbanization as the most important aspects in urban planning."

Xie said China will enhance its plans, improve the function of its cities and strengthen the construction of its urban infrastructure to improve the capacity for sustainable development.

Xie added China will increase its efforts in developing small cities to alleviate the pressure on major cities' populations, highlighting the nation's vast central and western regions, where a number of cities expect to enjoy rapid economic development and fine environments after this round of efforts.

The nation will also promote the ecological conservation program to improve the macro-environment, said Xie.

He also said China will encourage the participation and supervision of its general public in creating a better environment by publicizing environmental protection information.

China, like other developing countries in the past two decades, has had to cope with rapid urbanization, with the expansion in number and size of cities, and the unprecedented inflow of the rural population into urban areas.

Statistics indicate the number of cities in China has already expanded from the nearly 200 in 1978 to more than 600 in 2000. More than 36 percent of the nation's population now lives in cities, compared with approximately 17 percent in 1978.

But coming hand in hand with the urbanization process in China is the deterioration of the environment, such as water and air pollution.

(People's Daily May 9, 2002)

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