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Concerns of growth at cost of environment

By ZHENG CAIXIONG | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-26 23:55

Most urban residents worry that China's economic growth will come at the cost of its environment, according to the results of a survey released on Monday.

Of more than 3,000 urban residents interviewed by telephone nationwide in July, 78 percent said they care about the country's economic development. However, 71 percent said they worry the country's fast growing economy will destroy or damage the environment, according to the survey conducted by Guangzhou-based Canton Public Opinion Research Center. All interviewees were older than 16.

Another 62 percent said they believe the country's economic growth will have little impact on improving people's living standards.

As the country's economic growth shows signs of a slowdown, 49 percent said they worry their lives will be affected while 44 percent said they are not worried at all.

Fifty-one percent of low-income earners and 55 percent of middle-income earners worried their quality of life would be affected by the slowdown.

Peng Peng, a senior researcher with the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said people's concerns about the economic slowdown and the worsening environment are reasonable.

"A slowdown is obvious this year and the country's environment is becoming worse and worse," Peng said.

"Government departments have to seek a balance between economic development and environmental protection," he said.

Peng said relevant departments should introduce more effective measures to ensure the unemployment rate does not rise and to keep prices from rising.

He said companies should further upgrade industrial and production methods to reduce emissions and pollution while developing the economy.

Zheng Fenming, director of the Institute of Modernization Strategy at the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, said the government should increase investment in innovation, education and research and development to ensure healthy and sustainable economic development in the coming years.

"The government should prioritize the development of environmentally friendly industries that consume less energy and resources in the years ahead," Zheng said.

"The government and companies invested too much in developing real estate and other industries that consume a great deal of land resources and energy in recent years, causing serious environmental pollution," Zheng said.

China's GDP reached more than 24.8 trillion yuan ($4 trillion) in the first half of the year, a year-on-year increase of 7.6 percent.

The country's GDP is projected to grow at 7.5 percent this year, a slowdown from the double-digit growth of previous years.

Guangdong province, one of the country's economic powerhouses, led the country with registered GDP of 2.846 trillion yuan in the first half, 8.5 percent up from the same period last year.

Guangdong has ranked first in GDP among all provincial areas for more than two decades since the country adopted reform and opening-up policies in the late 1970s.

Zhuang Na contributed to this story.

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