A majority of Chinese expressed satisfaction in 2011 with the government's efforts to preserve the environment, though residents in urban areas are less satisfied than their rural counterparts, according to a U.S. poll released Friday.
Seventy-seven percent of Chinese adults surveyed last year said they were satisfied with the current efforts to protect the environment. In China's rural regions, 80 percent of residents held the same view, compared to 74 percent in urban regions, the Gallup poll found.
In general, 77 percent of Chinese residents were satisfied with the quality of air, while 73 percent expressed satisfaction with the quality of water, the poll said.
However, the percentage of Chinese urban residents (63 percent) who were satisfied with the air quality was significantly less than that of rural counterparts (87 percent), indicating that air pollution is much worse in the urban areas. Seventy-eight of rural residents were satisfied with water quality, compared to 67 percent in urban areas, the poll said.
In biggest Chinese cities, the percentage of residents who were satisfied with the environment in 2011 was much lower. Only 46 percent of residents in both Beijing and Shanghai were satisfied with the air quality, compared to 49 percent in Guangzhou. Meanwhile, 58 percent of residents in Shanghai were satisfied with the water quality, compared to 60 percent in Beijing and 61 percent in Guangzhou.
As a result, Chinese urban residents have a remarkably higher awareness of protecting the environment, and are more likely to say that priority should be given to environmental protection, even if it risks economic growth.
In general, 57 percent of Chinese surveyed in 2011 prioritized protecting the environment, even at the risk of curbing economic growth. Only 21 percent said that economic growth should be given a priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent, the poll showed.
But in Beijing, 77 percent of residents in Beijing thought environmental protection should be prioritized over economic growth, compared to 75 percent in Shanghai and 66 percent in Guangzhou.
China still lags behind developed countries in terms of efforts to protect the environment, though it is investing heavily in new energy sources and low-carbon technologies that could satisfy the substantial power demand from rapid urbanization while protecting the environment, the Gallup said in a report on the poll.
"Without aggressive strategies to combat pollution, China's environmental problems will likely only worsen as its urban areas continue to expand. Comprehensive urbanization policies that focus on conservation and the efficient use of natural resources such as energy, air, water, and land will be necessary to ensure the sustainability and quality of these resources in the future," the report said.
Results in China were based on face-to-face and telephone interviews with approximately 4,200 adults in 2011. The poll has a margin of sampling error ranging from 2 to 3.5 percentage points.