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Opening Ceremony Speech by Huguette Labelle


  It is a great pleasure to meet again with the China Council under the distinguished leadership of Dr. Song Jian, and to welcome new Members and new Working Group Chairpersons, as well as old friends.

  This Council is unique in many ways. It brings together host country and international experts in equal numbers, as well as representatives of governments, non-governmental & multilateral agencies, academic and business, as part of the same team. It is the only case I know where a major government voluntarily invites foreigners to give sustained and organized advice on such sensitive areas as environment and development and development be looked at together as related subjects.

  It is not only pleasant, but also appropriate, that we meet here at this hotel which is about half way between NEPA headquarters and the famous Universities of Beijing and Qinghua. There is something symbolic about this mid point because it illustrates the unique blending of government & non-government thinking which we have represented in this Council and its Working Groups. And that is true on both the Chinese and international sides. We draw the best from both the official & academic streams, in addition to the business and multilateral sectors and end up with a healthy mixture of people and ideas.

  Perhaps, I should conclude my remarks by outlining what I see, from my perspective, as the desirable goals and results of this meeting. The are four in number:

  (1) To welcome new Members and make them feel part of a cooperative and productive team. We want everyone to feel that, in this Council, there are no divisions between old and new Members, Chinese and foreigners or people of governmental and non-governmental backgrounds. We are all here as individual volunteers working toward the same objective of promoting environment and development in China.

  (2) To take more time than has been possible in past meetings to guide the Working Groups on what practical issues they should emphasize in Phase Two in order t o be relevant to Chinese decision-makers.

  (3) To solicit comments from both Chinese and international Members on how to

  make Phase Two more practical and on how to attract financial support for demonstration projects from bilateral and multilateral agencies and international foundations approved by Council.

  (4) To identify which current recommendations of the Working Groups are ready to be forwarded to the State Council and which need more work; and generally to make a few good practical recommendations to the Government of China. In making these recommendations, I believe that we will have a better chance of making an impact if we select a few really timely ones this year rather than touch on a whole myriad of items in an effort to acknowledge every good cause at the same meeting.

  Finally, I would like to commend Dr. Song Jian for such a comprehensive report o n progress achieved to date and on the future challenges for China. Mr. Chairman, we thank you for your exceptional leadership on these important matters.

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