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Points Made by Premier Zhu Rongji while Meeting with Members of the Council


  First of all, I would like to express my congratulations on the convening of the third meeting of Second Phase of CCICED. I am very glad to meet with you again in the most beautiful season in Beijing to listen to your suggestions to the Chinese government by myself. (After addresses made by Vice Chair Mme Labelle, Martin Lees, Svend Auken, Kees Zoeteman and special guest Maurice Strong)

  I am very happy to hear your precious suggestions on the issues of environmental protection and development in China and would like to thank you for it. Due to time limitation, you just made quite simple comments. However, these still give me a very deep impression. I think that your suggestions are quite important. They are suitable to the actual situation in China. The Chinese government will pay high attention to your suggestions and study and learn from these suggestions so as to carry out sustainable development in a sound way in China.

I would like to take this opportunity to brief you on the work in the field of environmental protection conducted by the Chinese government in the past year. 

  China has conducted lots of work in the field of environmental protection and ecological environment improvement in the past year. We have the feeling that to pay high attention to environmental protection is a very important measure to solve the tendency of currency deflation. This is a new recognition. Last year, we made great financial investment to improve Yantze River and Yellow River Shore and recover the loss made by the floods in order to deal with the extraordinary flooding disaster in the history. We have the feeling that the floods were caused by the ecological destruction, especially the cutting of forests in the upper and lower reaches of Yantze and Yellow River. Therefore, we have devoted great efforts to conducting investigation and research and have formulated a largescaled action program including restoring natural vegetation on cultivated land. I believe this will play an important role in promoting the economy in China.

  In the past few months, I have investigated the ecological environment in several provinces. I found that the forests were cut in the mountainous areas several thousand meters high. The mountain slopes there are quite steep. However, the slopes have been cultivated. The local people call that "Map Field". It is very difficult to cultivate the land so steep and the yield is quite low. All the more, it will damage the ecological environment. In the rainy seasons, the rain will wash the soil down the hills and into the Yantze. This is the reason for the floods.

  In Shaanxi Province, I visited a World Bank project where terracing was used to transfer the "Map Field". I think this will not solve soil erosion. There is no need for China to cultivate the land in high mountains. What we need is to transfer all the cultivated lands into forest areas and plant trees and grass there. In the past, we had to cultivate land in mountainous areas because China needed grain and the mountainous areas needed grain. Now the situation has been completely changed. Since 1997, we've had grain surpluses every year of 25 million tons. Farmers in these mountainous areas could restore the cultivated land into forest and plant trees and grass there. The cost of grain in China is higher than that in the States and Canada. Therefore, it is very difficult to export the grain. On the contrary, we have to import some high quality wheat from the States and Canada. If this remains unchanged, our surplus grain will go to waste. It is more desirable to turn the cultivated land in mountainous areas into forest and grassland. This will greatly improve the environmental protection in China. I believe that the forest coverage in China will double within one decade or several dozens of years.

  One other achievement we've made is that great progress has been made in urban environmental protection in China. Beijing is an example. Beijing has greatly improved its environmental quality.

  China has made great improvements in lots of other areas. I hope that all the members could go to visit different places in China; that will be helpful for you to put forth your suggestions. 

  You happen to come across with typhoon in Xiamen this time, which may perhaps influence your visit. Last year, I mentioned that Dalian is a city where the urban vegetation is the best in the country. I suggest you go there for visit. On the other hand, the third city I would like to recommend to you is Shenzhen. With one year's environmental treatment, Shenzhen has made great progress. I hope that every year before the annual meeting, you go to visit the cities where environmental treatment is conducted quite well. You are able to make comparisons if you go there for visits once in several years.

  In conclusion, China has realized the relation between environment and development through our own experiences. We will continue to devote efforts to environmental treatment. This is indeed an industry that will promote the national economy. In the meantime, we hope that the international organizations could provide some help to China concerning financial sources, technology and equipment. Financial source is not the most urgent issue for us. We hope that World Bank, UNDP and other international organizations could participate in environmental protection in China. Your participation will enable Chinese people to recognize the importance of the issue.Thank you. 

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