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Opening Ceremony Speech by Song Jian


  Respected Members and Guests,

  Ladies and Gentlemen,

  The first meeting of the Second Phase of China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development now opens. We see here Council members and experts from many countries who came all the way to Beijing to participate in this event. Please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese government, and also in my own capacity, to extend our warm welcome and gratitude to you all - Council member s, distinguished guests, and all friends who have a sincere concern for the environment and development in China.

  The China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development h as reaped gratifying achievements in the past five years of operation. Since its establishment five years ago, it has been conducting in-depth and meticulous re search on major issues of the environment and development in China, and has put forward a series of valuable policy recommendations to the Chinese Government. These recommendations have drawn great attention not only from the government, but also from environmental, economic, scientific and technological circles. Some have been or are being implemented. The Work of the Council has helped to push forward the scientific decision-making of China in environment and development areas.

  The past five years proves that CCICED has become an important bridge for opening up the country and establishing extensive exchanges with other countries of the world. It enables the government and Chinese people to learn from the experience of various countries, draw on their lessons and history, and share their wisdom and cultural achievements. The Chinese people are appreciative of and grateful for the efforts and contributions made by the Council over the past five years.

  The First Phase of CCICED has come to a successful end. With the support of Canada, the European Union, the United Kngdom, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, and so forth, and their experts, the Council has started on a new phase. Thus will begin a new page in China's modernization drive, in China's great experiment with reform and opening up to the outside world, and in the long-term process of joining the world community. Here new achievements will be made and new history will be written.

  Now, I would like to invite you to join me in welcoming the new Council members. They are: Mr. Nay Htun, Assistant Administer, UNDP; Mr. Stigson, Executive Director, World Business Council for Sustainable Development; Mr. Masami Ishizaka, Ad visor, Environment Agency of Japan; Mr. McElroy, Professor, Harvard University; and Mr. Jin Lee, former Minister of Environment of Republic of Korea. Let us show our cordial welcome to them! We highly appreciate their acceptance of our invitation to join the Council. We are convinced that their profound knowledge and abundant experience will inject new energy, information and vitality into the Council.

  During the next trans-century five years, based on what has been achieved in the First Phase, the Second Phase of CCICED will shift its focus to more practical policy research and demonstration. I am sure that the Council shall never fail to accomplish its various missions and shall pave wider avenues for China to communicate with and learn from the world. I am also sure that the Council will make new contributions to the environment and development in China by Playing its special role of high-level policy consultation.

  Ladies and gentlemen,

  The economic and social development in China now is in a crucial pint in its history. After more than four years of effort, China has not only maintained rapid economic development, but also effectively controlled inflation. In 1996, the firs t year of the Ninth Five-year Plan, the national economy increased by 9.7%, and the growth rate of inflation dropped to 6.1%, thus meeting the requirement that inflation indices should increase at a lower rate than those of the economy.

  From 1992 to 1996, the rate of increase of the GDP fluctuated between 9.7% and 1 4.2%, while the growth of investment and consumption tends to be stable. It was the period with the least economic fluctuation in our history. It was not only an important symbol of a generally good economic situation in China, but it also formed a sound basis for maintaining a relatively smooth development at relatively high speed. Meanwhile, thanks to advances in science and technology, these re cent years have witnessed fairly good development of agriculture and consecutive harvests of crops which ensure a per capita yield of 400 kilograms. The considerable progress in major national construction, the enhancement of the ability of basic industries and infrastructures, as well as favorable international balance of payments, all create conditions for further development of our national economy.

  In 1997, the smooth economic development of China is maintained. In the first half of this year, GDP increased by 9.5% compared to the same period of last year; foreign exports increased by 26.7%; the national foreign currency reserve reached USD 130 billion, USD 25 billion more than that of last year; the total output of crops in this summer were the highest in our recorded history. With the development of the economy and the acceleration of reform, people's living standard keeps improving - the country is taking on a new look with each passing day.

  On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong returned to the Motherland and began to practice the policies of "one country, two systems" and "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong ". This ushers in a new era of joint development of Hong Kong and the hinterland of China, and symbolizes Chinese people's new contributions to peace, development t and progress in the world. With a prosperous economy, stable society, harmonious nationalities, favorable political environment and a unified people, China has established a good beginning for the implementation of the Ninth Fiveyear Plan and the Long-term Target Program for the year 2010 We are confident that China w ill achieve even greater development in the next century.

  China has also made gratifying progress in environmental protection just as in other fields. Above all, decision-making bodies at all levels from central to local governments are attaching greater importance to environmental protection, and governments at various levels are implementing the basic state policy of environmental protection in a more thorough and practical way. On 8 March of this year, t he central government leaders held a conference on family planning and environmental protection, at which President Jiang Zemin and Premier Li Peng delivered important speeches on environmental protection in China.

  President Jiang Zemin emphasized that environmental protection has a direct bearing on national economy and social development, and it is a basic state policy which we must adhere to. Environmental legislation needs to be strengthened, and more needs to be invested in environmental protection, in order to guarantee the achievement of the goal of environmental protection in the next 15 years.

  Premier Li Peng set specific requirements for the implementation of sustainable development strategies in China. In accordance with the spirit of the conference, local policies on environmental protection were formulated in light with local conditions, and investment channels for environmental protection were set up. We a re gratified to see that progress in different ways has been made in environment al protection in all parts of China ever since the conference was held.

  The introduction of environmental legislation has made new and great progress in the last year. The Law on the Prevention and Control of Noise Pollution of the People's Republic of China was promulgated in October 1996.

  The legal system on the prevention and control of water, gas, noise and solid waste pollution with the Environmental Protection Law as the backbone has been basically completed. It provides solid guarantee for the protection of the environment.

  The revised Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China passed by the National People's Congress in March 1997 makes particular stipulations and sanctions for offenses against the environment. This is the first time that actions and resources seriously damaging the environment are specifically defend as crimes in the criminal law of China. It provides that criminals may be sentenced to imprisonment for less than ten years, giving us all a strong weapon to fight offenses against environment.

  At the same time, Chinese government attaches great importance to the enforcement of the Environmental Protection Law. In 1996, the State Council issued Decisions on Problems of Environmental Protection. In line with this document, governments at all levels launched a comprehensive campaign. During the campaign, fifteen kinds of small enterprises that waste resources and produce heavy pollution were outlawed and closed down. By June 30 this year, nearly 65,000 such enterprises across the country had been closed down. This campaign has gained wide support from local industries and their production mix, and has helped to solve the pollution problem in many regions. Closing over 60,000 enterprises in such a short time is by no means an easy task, since millions of people will have to change their jobs and billions of yuan will be lost. However, it fully demonstrates the resolution and courage of the Chinese government to stick to its principles of sustainable development.

  In addition, considerable achievements have been made in the prevention and control of water and air pollution, and they deserve your attention. There are 100,0 00 people living along the Huaihe River Basin, whose lives and production activities are seriously affected by the heavily polluted river water. Consequently, the prevention and control of water pollution in the Huaihe River Basin has always been a focus of attention, occupying the foremost position of the "Three Rivers and Three Lakes" cleaning project. Thanks to the concerted effort of the local people and the governments of the four provinces in this drainage area, as well a s the strong support of the departments concerned under the State Council, remarkable progress has been made in this area in the past three years.

  Meanwhile, the effective and proper use of administrative, legal, and economic means are indispensable to this achievement. A total of 1,111 small paper mills and 3.987 small businesses in the above-mentioned 15 industrial sectors were close d down, and a series of key projects for pollution treatment were completed. As a result, 25% of the water pollution load in this drainage area has been removed, the water quality of both the mainstream and the tributaries of the Huaihe River have been improved, and the worsening trend of water pollution has been brought under control.

  The goals put down in the Provisional Regulations on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution in the Huaihe River Drainage Area issued by the State Council are (a) to reduce industrial pollution to comply with standards by the year 199 7, and (b) to restore the water body of the Huaihe River to limpidity by the yea r 2000. Judging from the progress over these past years, the goals set by the State Council are achievable in time.

  For the prevention and control of air pollution, we have launched two actions.

  First, the departments of planning, trade, coal and environmental protection are working out methods to control air pollution caused by sulphur coal. They have specified requirements and operable measures to restrict the mining of high-content-sulphur coal, to improve coal washing, selection and manufacturing, to strengthen regulations governing sulphur coal. This document will be released around the end of 1997. It will facilitate sulphur dioxide pollution control and improve air quality.

  Second, to control pollution of tail emission of motor vehicles, Chinese government is working n the Nitrification on the Prohibition of the Production, Sale and Use of Leaded Gasoline for Automobiles in Restricted Time. The goal is to phase out leaded gasoline completely by the year 2000 and set strict standards for al l the procedures of production, marketing and use of gasoline. Beijing has already taken the lead to bar the use of leaded gasoline from July 1st, 1997. Other large cities such as Shanghai, Tianjin and Guangzhou have all decided to follow t he example to do so in the year 1997.

  Although China is making steady progress in the field of environment and development, it is facing severe challenge. The next 30 years will be the most difficult period in Chinas development history. Beyond this period, China's population will stop increasing. Presently, China has to devote major efforts to is development in order to lift 60 million people out of poverty. We must protect the environment to leave future generations with sufficient space, resources and environmental conditions so that they can live happy lives.

  In the field of agriculture, we are confident that we shall be able to maintain a per capita annual grain supply of 400 kg when Chinas population reaches the peak of 1.5 billion, thanks to scientific and technological progress. The most difficult tasks for us are environmental protection and economic construction. We are actually fighting an uphill battle. Contemporary Chinese people have no other alternatives but to succeed. History doesn't allow us to lose.

  The goal of China for the year 2000 is to curb the trend of environmental pollution and ecological degradation with some improvement of environmental quality in some cities and regions. In line with what was proposed by the fifth meeting, I hope that the Council in the Second Phase will shift its focus from policy discussions to more practical management policies and project demonstrations in view of the reality of China, and will translate policy recommendations into concrete actions. I also hope that the Working Groups would continue to serve as the foundation of the Council.

  Dear Members. Ladies and Gentlemen,

  Our generation shoulders greater responsibilities than any previous ones, because we know more and we can do better. So far, science hasn't discovered another oasis outside the planet Earth on which man can live. We have no other alternative but to protect our Earth. Protecting the environment of the Earth is the common task of mankind. The Chinese people and their future generations shall rely on their own efforts to protect the 9.6 million square kilometers of their homeland. There is no other way out. It is in this noble cause that we are now engaged.

  Environmental issues are becoming increasingly cross-boundary and global. So the nations of the world need to learn from each other and share policies and technologies with each other. This is the mandate of the China Council.

  Contemporary Chinese people believe that, to make relatively rapid progress, the y must learn from other countries and nations, assimilate all the good of human civilization and learn from the knowledge and experience of peoples in advanced countries. Even after 1,000 years, China will still need to learn from others. T his can never be wrong. Our Council just provides a good forum and opportunities for this at this time. Environment and development are the top issues for China, and the Motherland must learn to do it well.

  I wish the meeting complete success.

  Thank you.

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