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Opening Ceremony Speech by Xie Zhenhua


  Distinguished Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  Today we gather here to discuss about important issues and policies of environment and development. Our Council is full of vitality. As one of its members, I have witnessed the birth, development and growth of the Council. At this moment, I have the feeling of pride and happiness. I am full of confidence that the Council will continue to exert its unique influence in the new century.

  In the past 50 years, China has scored remarkable economic growth, especially since the reform and opening to the outside world. The Chinese economy has been increasing at an average annual rate of 7.3%, far higher than the average growth rate of the world. In the meantime, environmental protection has been constantly developing. In the 1950's and 1960's the conceptualization of environment was started. In the 1970's it was put on the important agenda of the governments. In the 1980's the environmental protection was adopted as one of national basic policies. In the 1990's it has entered a new era of development. Up to now China has primarily established an environmental policy and regulatory system suitable for the real situation of China. The pollution control in some river basins, regions and key cities has been launched in a large scale. Great attention has been given to ecological conservation which is being also strengthened. The environmental awareness of environment has been constantly upgraded. The total amount of main pollutants is basically under control. The environmental quality of some regions and cities has been improved to some degree. Since last year, some important progress has been scored in the environmental protection of China. First, after the industrial pollution sources in Huai River Basin have complied with the discharging standards by the end of 1997, the industrial pollution sources in Tai Lake Basin have also complied with the discharging standards; and the water quality of the lake is turning for better. By May this year, all the industrial pollution sources in Dianchi Lake Basin have also met the discharging standards and the landscape of the region is considerably improved. With the strong support of the central government, Beijing has put great efforts into the urban infrastructure construction and the prevention and control of air pollution by having taken 46 emergency measures such as control of vehicle emission, promoting clean fuels and control of dust from construction sites. By now an investment of Rmb10 billion yuan has been made. This results in some improvement of the environmental quality and the municipal landscape of the capital.

  Secondly, the investment in environmental protection has been greatly increased. Due to the domestic policy of increasing economic growth through expansion of domestic needs and increasing investment in the infrastructure construction, the environmental investment in 1998 reached a history record level up to 0.91% of GDP. Among the additional government bonds of Rmb 60 billion yuan issued this year, Rmb 8.7 billion yuan has been allocated for the pollution control of key river basins and the construction of the urban environmental infrastructure. In addition, the private sector and the financial sector have also invested hugely in the environmental sector.

  Thirdly, in connection with economic restructuring, the backward production capacity, process and products have been phased out and reduced; and a number of small enterprises using backward technologies, wasting natural resources and producing pollution closed down. The compliance with the discharging standards by the industrial pollution sources by the year 2000 has been launched nationwide, which has greatly reduced the industrial pollution load and promoted the transition in the pattern of economic growth.

  Fourthly, great attention has been given to ecological construction and conservation. China has strengthened the protection of the natural forest. As the economic strength is increasing, China has adopted the policy of increasing investment in ecological construction and providing financial subsidies to encourage the farmers to plant trees, return claimed land to forest and grassland and rent some parts of the mountain areas for afforestation. In addition, China is formulating "National Program for Ecological Construction" which aims to guide the protection in three different regions. Namely they are, the area with special ecological function, the area for natural resources development and the areas with sound ecology. Hainan and Jilin Provinces have proposed the objective of establishing "Ecological Province", taking into consideration their own reality, and actively explored the road of coordinating local economic growth with environment and natural resources development. I hope that our international members as well as our fellow colleagues and various working groups of CCICED will give concern and support to this. 

  Despite that we have achieved considerable progress in the environment and development, China, as a developing country, is still faced with dual pressures of both development and environmental protection while we are making the transition to the pattern of economic growth which aims to upgrade the quality and the efficiency of economic development. Currently the state of environment in China is still rather serious and many environmental problems need to be addressed and solved.

  This meeting will focus on studies and recommendations relating the tenth five-year plan development. The next five-year plan period will be an important one for establishing the market economy in China as well as the key phase for materializing the strategic objectives for the third phase of development of China. The tenth five-year plan is an important one relating to the reforms and the overall planning for our modernization drive of China early the next century, so the whole country will pay great attention to it and many departments and local governments will be involved in the process of formulation. Now we also set about studying and formulating the tenth fiveyear plan for environmental protection, which will be an important part of the tenth fiveyear plan for social and economic development. In this environmental plan, we will propose feasible environmental objectives and practical measures. We hope that all of our members and Chairs of various working groups will give your valuable recommendations to help us to do a better job, by taking into account the reality of China as well as your own experience.

  As human beings are approaching a new millennium, it is our common wish to build a peaceful, harmonious and clean world. Let us fully share the wisdom and creativity of this Council in our common efforts to make new contribution to the sustainable development of China as well as the world.

  I wish complete success to this meeting.

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