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China to Give Priority to Sustainable Development
Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao said Saturday China will give priority to sustainable development and make unremitting efforts to improve the ecological environment and better utilize resources for harmony between man and nature.

Wen made the remarks in a letter to the first meeting of the third China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), which opened Saturday morning.

This guideline was stressed at the 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which indicates China's firm determination to implement a strategy for sustainable development in the new era, the vice-premier said.

He said that the Chinese government had high praise for the results achieved at the World Summit of Sustainable Development (WSSD), held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September this year.

In accordance with the Johannesburg Declaration of WSSD and theImplementation Plan of Sustainable Development adopted at the WSSD, China will work for simultaneous and harmonious development of economic growth, social progress and environmental protection, he said.

Over the last five years, China has persisted in its sustainable development strategy and has achieved major progress in environmental protection and ecological reconstruction.

China has been able to reduce pollution while maintaining strong economic growth. The total volume of major pollution emissions nationwide has decreased by ten percent, and air pollution in major cities has been alleviated.

Meanwhile, more than five million hectares of mountainous terrain were closed off due to reforestation efforts, and more than two million hectares of arable land were set aside for reforestation. Investment in environmental protection and ecological construction over the five years totaled 580 billion yuan (72 billion US dollars), an amount equivalent to 1.29 percentof the country's gross domestic product.

The vice-premier said that, during the country's 10th five-yearplan period ending 2005, the government will invest 700 billion yuan (88 billion US dollars) in environmental protection, with an aim to cut the total pollution by another 10 percent.

Wen said the Chinese government values international cooperation in the environment and development. The CCICED has made an important contribution to China's sustainable development since its establishment ten years ago. The vice-premier expressed his hope that all members and experts of the council will give further support and attention to China's environment and development.

More than 40 Chinese and foreign personnel will listen to the work report of the CCICED Secretariat and offer suggestions to theChinese government at the three-day meeting.

The CCICED is a senior consulting institution. Its primary tasks consist of making proposals with regard to major issues on the environmental and development in China and carrying out demonstration projects.

(Xinhua News Agency November 24, 2002)

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