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EPA: Handling pollution vital to progress
By Qin Chuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-03 22:31

The current environmental situation along China's coastal and inland areas continues to be a worry, Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration Xie Zhenhua warned Thursday.

Xie said problems in the country are mainly demonstrated with the continuing problems of pollutants being discharged in large quantities, the nature of pollution changing as new problems arise, and ecological biodiversity dwindling.

At a news conference held in Beijing before World Environment Day, which falls tomorrow, Xie said environmental authorities across China will make additional efforts to address the country's environmental problems.

According to the administration's public report on China's pollution problems last year, the quality of China's environment changed little in comparison to 2002.

Although 142 of the 340 monitored cities, or 41.7 per cent, saw their air quality reach the national standard, a 7.9 per cent increase from 2002.

Some 91 cities, or 27 per cent of the monitored ones, had heavy air pollution. The number was down 4.4 per cent from 2002.

Among the country's seven major rivers, pollution in the Haihe, Liaohe and Huaihe rivers slightly lessened, while the Songhuajiang and the Pearl rivers were even more polluted.

The sequence of the seven major rivers, from the worst polluted one to the least, included the Haihe, Liaohe, Huanghe, Huaihe, Songhuajiang, Yangtze and Pearl rivers.

Pollution of the Yellow Sea along its shore was worse, while water quality of the Bohai and East China seas was improved but still heavily polluted, and water quality of the South China Sea along its shore remained unchanged.

The area of polluted seas dropped from 2002's 174,000 square kilometres to 142,000 square kilometres.

Xie said environmental authorities will actively promote a circular economy that is based on the most efficient use of resources and the most effective protection of the environment.

Companies are encouraged to adopt clean production methods, while provinces and cities should develop into "eco-provinces" and "green-cities," while the general public should attempt to lead energy-efficient lives.

Above all, Xie said economic polices should encourage recycling and the reuse of resources.

Environmental supervision and management must be strengthened and different regions and cities must take into consideration the carrying capacity of the environment when designing their economic development, Xie said.

In addressing environment problems, the focus will be on major regions such as the"three rivers and three lakes region.'' That refers to the regions along and around the Huaihe, Haihe and Liaohe rivers and Taihu, Chaohu and Dianchi lakes and covers 11 provinces and Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai municipalities.

The major regions are densely populated and share rapid economic development that levies burden on the environment.

Other efforts will include innovations of current systems, attracting participation of the general public, doing scientific research, and upgrading the ability of governments at all levels to protect the environment and seek sustainable development.

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