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Opening Ceremony Speech Qu Geping


  Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  The 2nd meeting of the 2nd phase of CCICED is open today. This indicates that CC I-CED has made another big step forward towards our goal. Today I see our old friends as well as new faces at this meeting. Your participation will add new blood and more vitality to CCICED. I believe that under the leadership of our new Chairman Mr. Wen Jiabao, and with the concerted efforts fall the members, CCICED will definitely play a greater and greater role.

  China has just experienced a very uncommon summer. The Yangtze River has suffered another big flood over the entire rive basin, the largest flood since 1954; and the Songhua River and the Leng River have also experienced unprecedented flooding. Faced with such floods, the Chinese government led the Chinese army and people in persistent and tough efforts to fight floods and mitigate disasters. This action demonstrated the strong commitment of the Chinese people and their great spirit for overcoming difficulties and hardships, The victory over the floods makes us more confident that we can over-come various difficulties on our way ahead.

  At the same time, the floods were a sharp exposure of environmental and ecologic al is-sues in China, Even though the mai causes of floods were the abnormal clim ate and concentrated rainfall, ecological damage exacerbated the problem and con tributed to the severityof the damage exacerbated the problem and contribued to the severity or the damage. Economic and development activities in important riv er basins in China in the past decades hafve changed the ecological environment of these river basins, The forest and habitats in the middle and upper reaches o f the Yengtze River have been severely damaged due to rapant deforestation eithe r for land use or for the harvesting of rorest resources. The natural forest has been substantially reduced which results in the decreased capacityf water rreso urces to nurture land and also results in severe soil ero-sion. The area of soil erosiojn has reached 560,000 Km2 and the annual of loss of soil is approaching2 .4 billion tons, which leads to the sedimentation and shrinkage of river, lakes and reservoirs.Due to lake closure land and sand sedimentaion, the number of lak es in the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River has been substantially r e-duced- those in Jiang-Han plain have gone from 1066 in the 1950's to 182 in th e aerly 1990's-whichgives rise to the greatlydecreased capacityof adjusting and saving the amount of water. The sitatiojn in the Yellow Rive r area is similrlyw orrying, with se-vere soi erosion in the middle and upper reaches and upper reac hes and constantly reduced wter flows. The water flow break-off has taken place in the lower reach of the Yellow RQiver for 18 consecutive years since 1972

  Although china has suffered huge losses from the floods this year, it is also a turning point of thistorical significance for promoting ecological conservation in china.First,the floods have attracted a great concern from all the circles of society to ecological damage, as well as a new awakening to the environmejtal i ssues. Secondly, we should lose no time in summarizing our past experience and l essons of major measures with-out any hesitation, such as closing the mountains for afforestation, returning the cleared land for afforestation, preventing and controlling soil seosion, and improving the ecologi-cal environment.

  Currently, the Chinese government is taking actiojn to comprehensiverly sto the defor-estation of the natural forest in the upper and middle reaches of the Yang tze River and the Yellow River. The timber enterprises are making a shift from d eforstaion to af-forestation. The grassland habitat in the western part of the c ountryis being reclaimed and expanded. The control of a small river basin is bei ng undertaken. The returm of cleared land for afforestation and the change of sl ope hill rields into terraced land is being strengthened. The retun of closed la nd for lakes is being strengthended. The return of closed land for lakes is bei ng impleminted as plannde.Many other provinces are folowin suit quickly, with ac tivities such as the closing of mountains for afforestation, and the returning o f cleared land for affoestation, initiated by the provinces in the upper and mid dle reaches of two big river basins. A wave of eco-logical recovery and construc tion is expanding nationwide, which is very encouraging.

  At a high-level meeting on family planning and environmental protection held in March of 1998, Mr. Li peng, Chairman of the standing committee of the Netional P eople's congress, pointed but that equal importance should be given to both the prevention and control of pollution as well as to ecological conwervation. The h istory of ecological dam-age i china is long and the relevant issues are very co mplicated. So Ihope that all the members will provide recommendations and make c ontributions to the process of strengthening ecological conservation in china.

  china is a developing country and facing tremendous environmental pressures. whi le ap-proaching a new century. wideeplyfeel that we must make persisten and grea ter ef-forts in improving the ecology and achieving sustainable developement, si nce we know that our goal is for a tomorrow with blue sky, clean water and beaut iful mountains.

  I wish this meeing complete success.Thank you very much.

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