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Media supervision wrestles with environment violations
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More than 80,000 journalists have taken part in one of China's largest nationwide environmental protection campaign in the past 15 years, arousing the public's awareness of energy-saving and exposing environment polluters.

More than 200,000 news reports have been filed since the annual media supervision campaign, the All-China Environmental Protection Century Tour, was launched in 1993, according to the China Youth Daily.

"These reporters were combating environment violations while conducting interviews," said Ye Rutang, deputy head of the environment and resource protection committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the campaign's initiator.

The campaign has attracted journalists from 28 media organizations including the People's Daily, Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television.

Their reports have helped initiate the overhaul of the country's potentially dangerous mine industry and drive local authorities into action to tackle drinking water shortage for 800,000 residents in east China's Shandong Province.

And more environmental issues have found their ways into the government agenda following the campaign's investigations on the Yellow River, Yangtze River and north China's Bohai Sea, the newspaper reported on Monday.

"The campaign will put people's environment rights high on its list of priorities in the future, with the prevention and control of water, air and soil pollution as focus," Ye was quoted as saying.

"Exposure on grave environment pollution and violations is expected."

The campaign sets a different theme for every year and, for 2007, it focused on reducing energy consumption and pollutant emissions, the targets of which the country failed to meet in 2006.

The central government has vowed to cut energy consumption per unit GDP by 20 percent in the five-year period from 2006 to 2010.

The goal for 2006 was four percent, but the National Bureau of Statistics reported last March China's per unit GDP energy consumption fell only 1.23 percent in 2006.

Despite the failure, Premier Wen Jiabao said at the annual parliamentary full session last year that the "serious" five-year target of energy consumption reduction will not be changed, and the government will try every means to reach the goal.

However, figures from the state environmental watchdog showed China's emission of major pollutants -- sulfur dioxide and chemical oxygen demand -- over the first nine months of in 2007 dropped for the first time in several years.

(Xinhua News Agency January 9, 2008)

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