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Paper maker backs off from hotelier lawsuit
By Qin Chuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-25 02:40

A report by the forestry authority in Southwest China's Yunnan Province has made paper and pulp giant Asia Pulp & Paper Co Ltd (APP) withdraw its lawsuit against a hotel association in East China's Zhejiang Province.

In late November, the company accused the association of infringing upon its reputation. The claim came after the association called on its member hotels to resist APP products after its officials read about Greenpeace China's November 16 claim that APP's large-scale paper and pulp project in Yunnan could devastate the province's natural forests.

The project was agreed upon in 2002 by APP and the Yunnan provincial government and involves large areas where non-native eucalyptus trees are planned to be planted and used to produce paper and pulp.

Sources with APP China said yesterday the Yunnan authority's report, publicized by the Yunnan Daily yesterday, has clarified that the company has not been damaging forests in the province.

The report says the existing illegal logging is mostly being done by local farmers. The company has decided it is unnecessary to pursue legal action against the association, APP sources said.

The Yunnan authority's report was in response to the State Forestry Administration's request in January, which had asked the authority to look into the APP project.

Earlier, the administration had sent an investigating team to Yunnan.

According to administration official Zhang Dansong, who was a team member, the team's investigation found "serious and illegal" damage of forests in the project areas.

Zhang said the responding report of the Yunnan forestry authority has reached the administration and "further studies" on it will be done.

Greenpeace China, however, does not agree with the Yunnan authority's report, while calling the withdrawal of the lawsuit not only a "victory" for the association, but also a "milestone" for public participation in environmental protection in China.

The environment organization had once said it is willing to face APP in court if the company thinks it has been defamed.

Meanwhile, the Yunnan government is still supporting the project.

(China Daily 02/25/2005 page2)

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