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Opening Ceremony Speech by Wen Jiabao


  Distinguished Council Members, Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  On the occasion of the opening of the 2nd Meeting of the 2nd Phase of CCICED, please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese government and in my personal capacity, to extend the warmest welcome and cordial thanks to Council members, experts and all friends present here who have concerned themselves with China's environmental protection and development.

  Since its establishment in 1992, the China Council has had the strong support o f the Chinese government and the Canadian government, as well as some international organizations. As a result, and with the joint efforts of Council members an experts, the Council has carefully and seriously studied some urgent issues in the field of environment and development in China and has put forward many problem-oriented policy recommendations to the Chinese government. The Chinese government has attached great importance to the work of CCICED and has adopted many of the recommendations made by this Council. The excellent work of CCICED has won extensive appreciation from the Chinese government and people as well as the international community, and has become a model of international cooperation.

  This year, after the new Chinese government took office, a corresponding adjustment in the member composition of CCICED was made, in which I was greatly honoured to assume the position of Council Chairman, with two new Vice-Chairmen and 18 new council members also joining the Council. The Council members this term will work even harder to further push forward China's environment and development undertakings. But first we should pay our high respect and give great thanks to Dr. Song Jian, the former Council Chairman, Mr. Gu Ming, former Vice-Chairman, and all other former Council members for their unremitting efforts for, and prominent contributions to, the success of CCICED during their term.

  China is a developing country with a huge population but comparatively scarce resources. The Chinese government has paid much attention to appropriately dealing with the relationship between economic development and population, and the relationship between resources and environment, while making environmental protection one of the basic national policies and pursuing the strategy of sustainable development. Our policy attaches equal importance to resource exploitation and resource saving, while emphasizing resource conservation and improving energy efficiency; it supports comprehensive planning in the use of land resources, along with the strict enforcement of laws which govern the management and protection of land, water, forests, minerals and marine resources; it seeks to strengthen environmental pollution control and treatment; and it promotes the planting of trees and grass, while fighting soil erosion and desertification, and improving the ecologica l environment.

  Since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, especially since the ref orm and opening up to the outside world, a lot of work has been done to protect the ecological environment and to prevent and control pollution. Examples are the construction of the Three North Green Belt, afforestation projects in the middle and upper stream areas of the Yangtze River, the coastal area protection affor estation project, the comprehensive treatment for soil erosion of seven major river basins, the strengthening of the work to combat desertification, the dissemination of water-saving irrigation technolgies, the focus on grassland and eco-agriculture construction, and so forth. This means that China's eco-construction a nd protection has entered a new development stage. Combined with the process of industrial structure adjustment and technical renovations, a number of high energy-consuming and heavy polluting enterprises and projects have been closed down, phased out or treated. Tangible progress in pollution control is occurring in key river basins and areas; the environmental quality in some cities has been impr oved to certain extent. All of these have had a positive effect on the sustainable development of the national economy and society.

  At present, in accordance with the requirements of the National Ninth Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection and the Long-Term Targets for the Year of 2010, both the Total Amount Control Plan for Major Pollutants Discharge and the Trans- Century Green Project Plan are being implemented conscientiously. The key pollution control projects, namely "Three Rivers" (Taihu Lake, Chaohu Lake and Dianchi Lake), "Two Zones" (sulphur dioxide controlled zone and acid rain controlled zo ne) and "One City" (Beijing) are in full swing. Strenuous efforts will be made to basically harness the worsening trend of environmental pollution and ecologic al damage by the year 2000. Recently, the Chinese Government has developed the National Ecological Environment Construction Plan and incorporated it into the national economic and social development plan, in which the overall goal of eco-construction for the middle of next century is set.

  This goal is: the soil erosion areas where the treatment measures are applicable will be basically under control; the barren land which is suitable for green coverage will be covered by trees and grass; degraded, desertified and salinized grassland will be basically rehabilitated; a comparatively perfect eco-environmental monitoring and protection system will be established; and thus the eco-environment in most parts of the country will be obviously improved.

  The short-term goal is that, by the year 2010; soil erosion caused by human acti vities will be totally controlled; great efforts will be made to harness the exp ansion of desertification; and initial results will be seen in the treatment of soil erosion in the middle and upper stream areas of the Yellow River and Yangtz e River. We are confident that, through our unremitting efforts, a China with gr een mountains, clean rivers and a benign ecological cycle will appear in the wor ld.

  China attaches great importance to environmental legislation and law enforcement . The government has provided a legal basis for China environmental protection b y promulgating environmental laws, and other relevant laws on resources, such as The Law on Environmental Protection, The Law on the Prevention and Control of A ir Pollution, The Law on the Prenvention and Control of Water Pollution, The Law on the Prevention and Control of Pollution by Solid Wastes, The Law on the Prev ention and Control of Noise Pollution, and The Law on Marine Environmental Prote ction, all providing a legar basis for China's environmental protection. We are now continuing to step up our environmental legislation efforts, so as to make i t compatible with sustainable social and economic development. Meanwhile efforts have also been made to enhance law enforcement on the principle that: laws must be observed and rigorously enforced and illegal practices must be punished acco rding to laws. Within the newly elected Chinese government, the environmentaldep artment has been given more authority with increased responsibilities, The State Environmental Protection Administration now is also responsible for environment al law enforcement and supervision. This will greatly promote China's environmen t and development.

  This year, in the circumstance of the deepening impacts of the Asian financial c risis and severe summer flood that efflicted parts of the country, the Chinese g overnment has made strategies to expand domestic demand, speed up infrastrucutur e construction and embark on reconstruction in the flooded areas. Environmental protection and ecolgical construction has been made a key component of all these efforts. Among infrastructure construction arranged by the State, urban environ mental infrastructure isemphasized, especially waste water treatment, municipal solid wastes disposal, water supply, heating, road construction and tree plantin g. We have paid special attention to integrating water conservancy projects, aff orestation and ecological engineering with reconstruction in the flooded areas s o as to enhance the ability to withstand natural disasters through comprehensive administration.

  The Chinese government has decided to ban logging in the middle and upper stream areas of Yangtze and Yellow rivers, and to carry out extensive afforestation to upgrade the ecolgical environment. Rivers and lakes will be dredged to withstan d serious flooding and also to increase the capacity of flood diversion. Dependi ng on local circumstances, farmland which was originally reclaimed from forest a reas and lake low land areas will be returned to the forests and lakes. All thes e measures will greatly improve the ecological environment in the Yangtze and Ye llow River Basins.

  China is a developing country. Economic development will remain our central task over a long time. Only with a developed economy can comprehensive national stre ngth be increased, the people's living standards be upgraded, the development of all social causes be provided with dependablematerial and technological base, a nd environmental protection be guaranteed. Therefore, no task of ours should dev iate from the center of economic construction at any time. We also stress that i n pursuing the road of sustainable development, no long-term interests and gener al interests should be sacrificed for present interests, partial and local inter ests. Sufficient attention should be paid to environmental protection in economi c development. The relationship between social and econmic development and envir onmental protection should be properly handled. In decision making, environmenta nd development should be looked at in a comprehensive way, giving considerations to economic returns, social benefit and environmental impacts. Coordinated econ omic, social and environmental development should be sustained.

  Currently, economic reform and development in China has entered a crucial stage. For economic system reform, we are concentrating on solving deep-seated contrad ictions and the problems associated with building a socialist market economy. We are also trying to solve new problems in the field of economic development, whe re we are in the process of completing the strategic goal of the 2nd phase and m oving forward toward the goal of the 3rd phase. Environmental protection and eco logical construction is a pressing and arduous task, which should be dealt with in a forceful and active manner while promoting economic reform and development. This year, faced with the grim situation of the Asian financial crisis, the Chi nese government has adopted the strategy of expanding domestic demand, speeding up infrastructure construction and at the same time developing multilateral inte rnational market. These policies have achieved obvious resuts: economic growth m aintains its momentum of rapid growth, the exchange rates of the RMB to other cu rrencies are stable. Yet while we are keenly aware that great difficulties and a rduous tasks await us, we have the determination and confidence that we are able to overcome all these difficulties and maintain the sustained, speedy and healt hy development of the national economy.

  Ladies and gentlemen,

  The China Council has effectively worked on the macro-policy of China's environm ent and development for the past five years. In the coming year, we should combi ne our macro-policy study with specific problem-oriented policy studies and mate rialize the recommendations made by the Council to the Chinese government in the past five years. China's modernization process also needs to learn from the exp eriences of other countries in their development process and the China Council c an play an important role in this regard. Council members are well-known experts from different fields with high levels of expertise, and we should take advanta ge of this to conduct some problem-oriented studies on the crucial issues of Chi na's economic, social and environmental development. The Council's bridging func tion should be fully exerted in introducing advanced technologies and management practice to China, which will be absorbed, digested and innovated according to China's specific conditions. This meeting will listen to the work report by the Secretary General, discuss China's economic reform and the role of the Council, work out the Council's recommendation to the Chinese government, and so forth. I hope that out distinguished participants will speak without any inhibitions and actively offer their advice to make new contributions to China's environment an d development undertakings.

  Thank you.

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