Chinese apathetic about environmental protection

Updated: 2007-01-18 16:47

Beijing -- While 86 percent of Chinese think environmental pollution has had a negative impact on their health, a national report released Monday showed that most of them are apathetic about environmental protection.

The annual national report on environmental awareness, released by the State Environmental Protection Administration, surveyed 4,482 residents from 28 cities nationwide.

The report comes amid mounting concern about the environmental cost of China's breakneck economic growth.

"Chinese people are dissatisfied with the state of the environment but they seldom take part in environmental protection activities," said the report, adding that food safety, drinking water and air pollution are the environmental issues that worry people most.

More than 10 percent of metropolitan residents and 7.5 percent of rural dwellers think their living environment is "unfit for habitation". Both urban and rural residents are unsatisfied about garbage treatment, and 52 percent rural respondents consider garbage disposal "a big problem".

About 61 percent of the people surveyed said the Chinese government "pays a lot of attention" to environmental protection and 70 percent applauded the government's "environmental impact evaluation" carried out before each industrial or construction project.

But the survey failed to ask respondees about how to resolve the Chinese dilemmas: how to reconcile the desire to limit the environmental cost of growth with the need to keep the economy humming in order to provide jobs, and how to wean local officials away from their growth-at-all-costs attitudes.

Local environmental departments received about 600,000 pollution reports from the public in 2006, up 30 percent over 2005. But 76 percent of respondees did not know the national environmental protection hotline number "12369".

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