The Western media have neglected the positive impact China has on the
environment outside the country, according to a report released by a
high-profile think tank.
The report "Review and Perspective of the Environment and Development of
China" was presented by a special task force of the China Council for
International Co-operation on Environment and Development (CCICED) at its annual
meeting over the weekend. The task force consists of leading experts from home
and abroad on global environmental and affiliated sectors.
"Too much stress on the negative environmental externality will limit China's
rights to development," the report said.
Since China's trade pattern is goods dominant, the result is often that
products are exported while pollutants are left over. China is more affected by
negative environmental impact whereas the positive environmental benefits it
brings about to other countries are almost ignored, it said.
The report said that imports of wastes used for raw materials such as steel
scrap and waste paper have been on the rise in recent years. The amount of such
waste totalled 33.08 million tons in 2004, a seven-fold increase from 4.58
million tons in 1996.
"China is the major venue of resource consumption and pollution as well as
the main victim in the current international economic and trade pattern," it
The report suggests that when trade between China and its partners exerts an
environmental impact, the responsibility should be borne by all parties,
including manufacturers, traders and consumers in the product chain.
For example, it has been alleged that China poses a threat to tropical
forests by importing timber from Southeast Asian countries. But 70 per cent of
the timber is made into furniture and exported to the United States and European
China's environmental impact on Southeast Asia is far more exaggerated than
the economic benefits it brings to the region, the report noted.
"China has been playing its role as a global workshop in the past two
decades," said Shen Guofang, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of
Engineering and core expert of the CCICED. "We import the raw material, produce,
send the products abroad and keep the waste and pollution ourselves."
The situation is worsening as some heavily-polluting industries, like iron
and steel, construction materials and cement, have been moved from Europe, the
United States and Japan.
"The shift of industry is also the shift of global pollutants," Shen said.
"While they have less environmental pressure, China has more.
"It is unfair to turn a blind eye to China's huge efforts in afforestation,
water purification and emission reduction while stressing only the negative
impact on the world," he said.