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Points Made by Chairman Li Peng while Meeting with Council Members


First of all, please allow me to extend a warm welcome to all participants home and abroad to the 5th meeting of CCICED Phase Ⅱ. I am grateful for the work and the effective results from your work in the field of environmental protection in China. As in my memory, CCICED was established in 199l, on which I was still in the government. This year sees the ending of CCICED Phase Ⅱ. You are expected to continue this work and CCICED Phase III is going to be established. The 5th meeting of CCICED Phase II is closed, I would like to hear from you the briefing and comment on the meeting at first.

(President Leonard Good, Sir Crispin Tickell, Mr. Sun Honglie and Ms. Julia Marton-L efèvre made some comments.)

In my opinion, there is a growing awareness in China regarding the environmental issues on the part of the government as well as the public. As a developing country, China is facing the pressure of continuous growing on population in the process of industrialization. It is imaginable how hard it would be to tackle the environmental protection issue. There are several phases in general: A. Phase I: The Government has been attempting to deal with major polluted areas in order to avoid the unsustainable way of "Pollute first and then clean up the environment" as occurred in other countries;B. Phase II: The Government of China identified environmental protection as a basic state policy. There are only two basic state policies in China, one is family planning, the other is environmental protection.C. Phase III: To incorporate environmental protection into the sustainable development strategy. We are not only to achieve a higher development at present, but also to allow scope for future generations to pursue development. In many places, people demonstrate the desire to improve the environmental protection once their basic needs are met. They are willing to live in the more comfortable, cleaner environment. There are two ways to indicate this point: representatives of various levels of local NPCs are having more and more heated discussions over the issue of environmental protection, the other is the monitoring system in partnership by the people and the media is formed with the received growing complaints on environmental protection from the public.

Secondly, I would like to talk about environmental legislation. China is now managing the state affairs in comply with laws. In these years, the NPC has formulated more than ten pieces of laws to protect the environment. Many regulations and implementing manuals have been formulated accordingly within central and local governments. Departments within the State Council have also set up a variety of rules and regulations. A relatively complete legal system is thus formed. Legislation alone is not sufficient, actual enforcement of the laws needs to be monitored and supervised. The Standing Committee of NPC organizes in particularly the monitoring and supervision on the law enforcement of environmental protection annually. For example, during the monitoring and supervision of the enforcement of the Law on Air Pollution Control, a special monitoring has been conducted to the air pollution in Beijing. Suggestions have been put forward in order to improve the environment in the capital for the following reasons: Beijing is the capital of China, and it was running for the Olympics at that time.

Moreover, we have monitored and supervised the enforcement of the Law on Ocean Pollution Control and found the red tides in the northwest of Bohai Sea. The problem has been tackled and solved.

To assess China's overall progress in the field of environment is improved or degraded, we should look it in two ways, in some aspects, things are getting better, in others, there is deterioration. But without a series of environmental policies and effects taken, the situation would be worse.

Thirdly, some members recommended the Government invest more in environmental

protection, which is in our agreement. In addition, the business sector should be mobilized for they pollute during production and certain price shou1d be paid. According to statistics, 0.9% of China's GDP has been spent on environmental protection. This proportion is not high and expected to rise constantly over the new Five-Year Plan. Environmental protection needs investment, which is the material basis for this work. A recent phenomenon is the emergence of an environmental industry and product, promoting the specia1ization of the environmental protection work. In some areas, environmental protection enterprises are emerged to undertake some environmental protection project or the environmental protection work in some region. These enterprises are specializing in environmental protection, which result in not only high economic efficiency but also a big development in technology.

Fourthly, China is willing to continue its international cooperation in environmental protection. There is no boundary in the field of environmental protection. We are willing to participate actively all kinds of activities in this field held by international community. The Government of China is going to send representatives to join the WSSD in Johannesburg next year. I don't know if there is any one here from South Africa, but the environment in Johannesburg is not satisfactory. I hope this meeting will be of some help.

Fifthly, a major focus for China is the 2008 Olympics held in Beijing. In this aspect, a lot of work in the environmental field will need to be done in order to meet the international Olympic Committee's requirements. The Beijing municipal government has made a detailed plan accordingly. In the meantime, the municipal and the central government will be investing a great amount. Improvement will be made in fuel structure, which leads to cleaner fuel with the reduction on the coal consumption. Furthermore, communication situation is to be improved. This turns out to be a contradiction--people are buying more private cars with the improvement of life, the increase of cars is resulted in new pollution. The way to tackle this problem is, on one hand, to develop rapidly the public transportation and subway, on the other hand, to improve the ring road. The four ring road has been completed and there is going to be the fifth ring road. They are all express ways.

There are large amount of construction projects and new buildings in Beijing. The construction should be environmental-friendly. In addition, we should strengthen public monitoring and supervision on environmental protection. Beijing is now not only reporting daily on air quality, but also predicting the air quality of the next day. I think we should be confident that the environmental quality in Beijing will meet the standard of Olympics in the year 2008.

Sixthly, in the new century, the Government of China is attaching great importance to environmental protection. A plan on environmental protection in 2l century has been formulated with the key points of reducing pollutant emissions by l0% and improving the general degraded state of eco-environment. To achieve these goals, every expert should be able to image great efforts will be needed given China's 1.3 billion population.

Seventhly, regarding bringing cultivated lands back to forests, I favor the idea of planting trees in the areas that are suitable and planting grass in the areas that are suitable. Bringing cultivated lands back to forests is a good policy, but attention should also be paid to grassing. The problem of rain is also needed to take into consideration. If there is little rain which cannot meet the basic need for survival of the forests, trees will not grow even if they are planted. Economic benefit should also been considered in order to have a long prosperity while converting the lands. I am also in favor of this idea. Land lost and damage of forest and grassland mainly due to the increase of population. The growing popu1ation requires greater amount of grain to feed itse1f and it wi1l 1eads to the damage of forest and grassland. Now we are bringing cultivated lands back to forests and grasslands, certain subsidies should be paid to farmers. However, these subsidies will not 1ast for too long. There must be some new economic benefits and new industry to replace it. For examp1e, there is a demonstrated forest in Ning Xia jointly implemented by Internationa1 Grain and Agriculture Organization and Chinese Government, in which cultivated lands have been converted back to forest and reclaiming of cu1tivated 1ands. However, due to the inadequate income sources for living and the increase of population, the trees planted are cut and will be disappeared consequently. This is a 1esson we should learn.

Regarding the agriculture non-point pollution, I agree with the experts. High levels of fertilizer, particularly nitrogen are being used but their efficiency is low, which leads to both high production costs and pollution. To use fertilizer reasonably with proper reduction and reduce the cost is something the Chinese agriculture should work on.

Eighthly, China is now moving towards greater industrialization and its population is still increasing. A strategy of achieving a higher degree of industrialization through the high-tech or information technologies has been formulated. During this process, the heavy polluters, energy and natural resources wasters, too much raw resources and low efficient users will be eliminated. The industrial structure is being adjusted to make it more reasonable and efficient. This is closely related to environmenta1 protection.

I would 1ike to express my gratitude to all international and Chinese friends of CCICED again. I hope you have a pleasant stay in China.

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