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PLA makes headway in ecological protection
By Guan Xiaofeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-12 23:40

The Chinese army has pledged to strengthen its efforts on environmental protection and promote exchanges with foreign counterparts in this field, a senior officer of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) said Tuesday in Beijing.

The PLA will play a major role in protecting the environment and contribute to humanity's sustainable development, said Liao Xilong, Minister of PLA's Logistics Department and Chairman of PLA's Commission on Environmental Protection and Afforestation,

He made the remarks Tuesday in his opening speech to the International Conference on Military Environmental Protection, hosted by Liao's department.

Hundreds of delegates from 54 countries including the United States, Germany, France, Japan and India will discuss military environmental protection at the three-day meeting focusing on the "environmentally-friendly construction and management of military zones."

Liao said that environmental protection has become an important task for all armies around the world.

"Environmental protection is a sacred mission for all of us living on this planet," he said.

"The conference is a platform for international communication and co-operation in the field and will promote both Chinese and global military environmental protection and construction," Liao added.

Du Yunsheng, director of the Infrastructure Construction Office of the PLA's Logistics Department, said the army has intensified its efforts to protect the environment and has made substantial progress in recent years in response to the central government's strategy of sustainable development.

The Chinese army takes environmental issues into account in the construction of military infrastructure, said Du.

Military construction should be conducted using environmentally-friendly measures, such as incorporating pollution prevention facilities in the design, construction and use of these projects.

An appraisal system has also been established to examine the effects of military construction and equipment on the environment.

He said the PLA has always been committed to the prevention of military pollution and has made substantial achievements.

For example, the army invested 4 million yuan (US$480,000) in the early 1980s to tackle noise pollution caused by an engine laboratory of the Air Force's No.1 Research Institute and successfully reduced the affected area from 12.5 to 0.3 square kilometers, bringing relief to 1,200 nearby households.

Fang Zhendong, professor of the PLA's Logistical Engineering University, said the focus of the army's environmental efforts is gradually shifting from afforestation to ecological protection.

"The troops now not only plant trees and flowers around camps but more importantly, strive to protect the surrounding environment," he said.

The meeting echoes the PLA's revised Regulation on Environmental Protection issued in August, in which the army established a complete management system for environmental protection and personnel training.

The regulation is now being circulated throughout the PLA to raise the entire army's awareness of environmental protection.

The PLA has been actively conducting exchanges on military environmental protection with many countries, such as the United States, Australia, Argentina and Thailand.

For example, an agreement on the exchange of information on military environmental protection was reached between China and US in 1998, resulting in frequent exchanges between the two countries.

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