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Speech at the Opening Ceremony by Song Jian


  Respected Members, Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  First of all, on behalf of the Chinese Government and on my own behalf, allow me to welcome you and express my sincere gratitude to all members, guests, and friends for their support, concern, and tremendous efforts in relating to China's environmental protection and development.

  Shanghai is the biggest industrial center in China. The Pudong area has attracted world attention with the remarkable results of reform and open door policies. Pudong surely will become the "Dragon's Head "leading the Yangtze River valley in its economic take off. Therefore, holding the fifth meeting of the Council here in Shanghai is of great significance.

  In the past year, China completed its Eighth Five Year Plan, during which time the annual GNP growth rate averaged 12%. This makes it possible for us to realize t he goal of doubling the 1980's GNP by the year 2000,five years ahead of time. The annual growth rate of agriculture reached 4.1% and industry 17.8%. The average annual volume of import and export exceeded 200 billion US$, more than twice as much as the goal stated in the Seventh Five Year Plan. Actual foreign capital investment surpassed 160 billion US$. The current foreign exchange reserve is over 90 billion US$. China's overall strength has increased, and people's living conditions have noticeably improved. All this has contributed to an economic foundation for the smooth development of China's environmental protection and economy.

  I would especially like to mention three things, which have significantly affected China's environment and development in 1996:

  1. The Fourth meeting of the National Peoples Congress held in April 1996,formally endorsed the Ninth Five-Year Plan for National Economy and Social Development and the Long Term Development Program to 2010.This is China's first mid-term and long-term program with clarified objectives for development under the socialist market economy, Embodied in the program is the concept that:

  "It is necessary to take substantial development as an essential strategy in our modernization construction. It is imperative to prioritize population control, resources conservation, and environmental protection, so that a favorable cycle will be guaranteed with a population rate suitable for the development of productivity and an economic construction framework coordinated with the protection of resources and the environment".

  Aiming to impact the structure, the documentation sets the requirement for us to realize two basic changes:

  A. Change from the traditional planned economy to a socialist market economy; and

  B. Change from an extensive way of economic growth to an intensive way of economic growth.

  The documentation also requires that we follow a strategy of development by relying on science and education as well as a strategy of sustainable development. Concerning environmental protection it specifically states that:

  "By the year 2000,effort should be made to control increasing environmental pollution and eco-destruction as well as improve the environmental quality in a number of cities and regions .By 2010,China should have the deterioration of economy environments in check and bring about needed improvement for rural and urban areas,"

  2.China held its Fourth National Conference on Environmental Protection in July 1996.The main purpose was to determine how to carry out the basic state policy of environmental protection and the strategy of sustainable development, and how to realize the objectives of the Ninth Five Year Plan.

  3.The State Council developed decisions on a number of issues concerning Environmental Protection, asking governments at different levels to shift from mainly managing the environment by relying on education and persuasion to management by law, and to intensify law enforcement. Meanwhile the Council has also decided to carry out the plan for the pollution controls and adopted China's Cross Century Green Engineering Program throughout the country, requiring leaders of various governments and enterprises to put development at the top of their agendas.

  Thinking about sustainable development has become common among authorities and the public, as well as an indispensable part of the government operations. We have come to see that population, resources, and environment should all be taken into account and that consideration should not only be given to present development, but also to the creation of better conditions for future development. In order to fulfill the Ninth Five Year Plan, Attain the goals for the year 2010 and upgrade China to the level of a middle developed country by mid-21st century, we must commit ourselves to sustainable development.

  One other item worthy of mention here is the success shared by Benxi, a city of Liaoning Province, in its pollution control and management -it sets an example for al other industrial cities. Benxi, a base for heavy industry, used to suffer from serious air pollution and be called" a city that cannot be seen from a satellite". After seven years of strenuous effort, the city has managed to bring about a new look to its environment, providing valuable experience for others in the pollution control of heavy industrial sites. This important practice of sustainable development demonstrates the determination and courage of our people.

  Environmental protection is essential for the implementation of sustainable development. As a developing country, China has been faced with dual pressure from economic development and environmental protection. To ensure a continuous, rapid and healthy development of the national economy, we should not only deal with pollution problems left behind from the past, but we should also control new ones. To this end, during the Eighth Five-Year Plan period, various areas and industries adjusted their industrial structure, eliminated a number of processes consuming large quantities of energy and materials and causing serious pollution problems, and completed some pollution management projects. As a result, the energy consumption per 10,000 yuan of GDP went down from 5.3 to3.94 standard tons. The industrial waste water treatment rate for enterprises above county level rose from 32% to 76%, and the dust removal rate rose from 74% to 88%. The campaign for hygienic cities helped to accelerate the construction of urban pollution control facilities and improved some city environments. Thanks to persistent efforts in afforestation and soil conservation, the country's green coverage rose from 12% in 1980 to 13.92%. The "Northern" forest belt project alone turned more than 40,000square kilometers of desert land into areas protected by forest systems. Moreover, 84%of barren counties have started to plant many trees, and the eco-agricultural situation has shown marked improvement.

  However, judging from the overall picture, we should say that many challenges re main and are severe. Pollution in cities is worsening and this tendency will spread to rural areas, and the eco-destruction will continue expanding. The situation in some areas has already impeded development and, in some cases, has even directly threatened people's health. The government has decided to prioritize water pollution management of the Huaihe, Haihe, Liaohe, Taihu, Dianchi, and Chaohu, and the management of selected acid rain and sulfur dioxide (SO2) areas in the Ninth Five Year Plan period. In the first half of 1996, the four provincial governments in the Huaihe river valley adopted resolute measures, closing down over 1000 paper mills with less than 5000 tons of annual production capacity. The State Council has mapped out plans for the prevention and control of water pollution in the Taihu and Liaohe valleys. Nine cities in two provinces have also gained headway in the prevention and control of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and acid rain.

  The major tasks for the present are as follows:

  1. Adhere to comprehensive policy making for environment and development, and enhance construction for environmental legislation.

  2.Identify more financial channels and try to increase investment.

  3.Maintain concentration on both pollution control and ecological conservation, and rationally develop natural resources.

  4. Follow the strategy of development by relying on science and education, and up grade scientific and technological levels for environmental protection.

  5. Intensify publication and improve pubic awareness.

  6. Strengthen international cooperation and exchange, participate actively in relevant international affairs, and conscientiously implement international conventions.

  7. Develop environmental protection industries.

  In the past five years since the establishment of this council, our members and experts have worked very diligently made valuable suggestions and recommendations. I would like to say that much of the progress made in China in the last five years is directly attributable to the efforts made by our members and our experts. Now we are working on the Ninth Five Year Plan, and environ mental development has entered a new historical stage. In light of the changing situation, the council will make necessary adjustments, The Secretariat has started to draft an outline for the second phase, which will be submitted to the council meeting in due course.

  According to the program of the meeting, We will cover the following items:

  1.Work report and financial report by the Secretary General,

  2.Reports and final reports by Expert Working Groups,

  3.Review of the first phase,

  4.Discussion and approval of the outline of the second phase,

  5.Endorsement of recommendations for the Chinese Government, and

  6.Rdports by concerned ministries and departments on the implementation of China's Agenda 21 and other related international conventions.

  Although there are only two and half days, we have quite a lot to do, I hope that all our members, guests and friends will make the best use of their time, concentrate on the work, and try to make the meeting a success.

  We hope you stay in Shanghai.

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