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Speech at the Opening Ceremony by Qian Qichen


  Ladies and Gentlemen,

  First of all, I wish to express, on behalf of the Chinese Government and in my own name, our congratulations on the convocation of the third session of the Chin a Council for International Cooperating on Environment and Development and our welcome to all of you present at the session. We in China are going to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the founding of the people's Republic of China in ten days time. We are glad to have you, friends coming from afar, with us in marking this joyous occasion. We would like to thank you in advance for your ideas and proposals about China's environmental protection and economic development.

  For 45 years, we Chinese people have been working hard for the prosperity of the country by relying on our own. The reform and opening-up endeavour in the past 15 years in particular makes a brilliant chapter in the Chinese history. Everything being constant, China's GNP has increased 2.78 fold over the past 15 years, registering an average annual growth rate of9.3%. China has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Its two-way trade was the 11th largest in the world in 1993. The overall national strength has markedly grown and its people's living standards have improved considerably. In spite of this, we are soberly aware that we need to make long-term strenuous efforts to lift China, a developing country with a huge population and poor economic foundation, out of poverty and backwardness that we have inherited from the past. In the process of accelerating modernization, we know full well that we must not repeat the old pattern of "pollution first and environmental control second". Otherwise, we would not the responsible for the future generations and human civilization. It is our basic state policy to protect our environment and seek sustainable development. In the past decade and more, while pursuing rapid economic growth, we have more or less kept our environment as it was or even improved it in some areas. Right after the conclusion of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), we have worked out Chinas Agenda 21, which is a programmatic document to guide our efforts in environmental protection, economic development and population control beyond the 21st century.

  While relying on ourselves to achieve a sustainable development, we Chinese people truly advocate and take an active part in international cooperation in this regard.

  As we have witnessed, drastic changes have taken place in the political, economic, social, scientific and technological and other fields and the world is moving more rapidly towards multi-polarity. New problems have kept cropping up and new areas of development are yet to be opened. How, then, can we meet the opportunities and challenges facing the human beings and bring our world into a more promising 21st century? Extensive and effective international cooperation is the only sensible alternative. Environment and development is one of the areas where such cooperation is most needed and most vividly manifested. Over two centuries of industrialization has left us a neglected planet, degenerated eco-system and slowed development. The old modality of production and consumption cannot work well. It is against such backdrop that the UN Conference on Environment and Development was convened in 1992, which proposed a "new global partnership" as the foundation of international cooperation on environment and development. This Proposal which is in keeping with the trend of the times has naturally won the support of the world people.

  Over the past two years, the international community has made considerable efforts to implement the agreements reached at the Earth Summit. Regrettably, however, the "new global partnership" is far from becoming a reality. Therefore, what is most urgent now is to set up as expeditiously as possible such a partnership. To this end, we propose to start from the following three aspects:

  ⅠEarnestly implementing the commitments made at UNCED as the achievements of the conference were hard-won. Little progress has been made over the past two years in such key areas as providing additional funds and transferring technology. In some cases, there was even retrogression. This has invariably tainted the readability of the United Nations and the international community at large. We hope that all countries, the developed ones in particular, will immediately start to adopt effective and concrete measures to implement the decisions made at the UN CED. Otherwise, the world people won't have confidence in us and the "new partnership" would be out of the question.

  ⅡThe principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" as agreed upon at the UNCED should be truly adhered to. Environmental protection and sustainable growth are the common task of all mankind and conform to their shared interests. No one should stay aloof from it. Whether in view of their part in the environmental degradation in the past or their present capacity, the developed countries undoubtedly should contribute more in this regard. For years, the developing countries have made tremendous efforts and undertaken considerable obligations in many international conventions and agreements on environmental protection. It is time for developed countries to take actions commensurate with their capacity.

  ⅢTo join hands in checking the tendency of containing the development of the national economy and trade of the developing countries in the name of environmental protection. After the conclusion of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations, issues such as the interaction between trade and environment have become increasingly pronounced. Now, there is a tendency towards imposing various unrealistic standards and requirements on industries and products of the developing countries under the pretext of environmental protection, which are likely to become new trade barriers. This will impair the economic growth of the developing countries and thus crippling their ability to participate in international cooperation on environment. The international community must work together to check this harmful trend in the spirit of equal partnership.

  Ladies and Gentlemen, what is gratifying to us is that the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development has, since its establishment, made a lot of friends and learned a lot from others to serve the interest of China's environmental protection and economic development. What we have done is a useful attempt at establishing a new partnership and it is a significant and promising job. I hope that the committee will continue to act as a bridge between China and other countries in cooperation on environment and development by introducing useful experience of other countries to China and communicating to the world the determination and aspiration of the Chinese Government and people for sustainable development.

  In conclusion, I wish the session a complete success.

  Thank you all.


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