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Newsletter (December)



  Members of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) met for the first time in its second phase in Beijing from October 3 to 5, 1997. As usual, the meeting was chaired in rotation by Chairman Song Jian, and by three Vice-Chairs, Dr. Labelle, Professor Qu Geping and Mr. Gu Ming. Forty-two Chinese and international members attended the meeting. Other participants included co-chairs of seven expert Working Groups (WG) and one Task Force, Vice-Governor Zhang Ruifeng of Shandong Province, Vice-Chairman Xu Mingyang of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, Mayor Hong Yongshi of Xiamen City, as well as 12 other observers.

  Chairman Song Jian opened the meeting by welcoming new Chinese and international members to the Council. The meeting approved the new Working Groups' co-chairs and the new terms of reference and rules of procedure for the second phase.

  In his opening speech, Song said that the Council successfully conducted meticulous research on major issues of environment and development in the past five years, and presented a series of valuable policy recommendations to the Chinese government. The Council serves as an important bridge between China and other countries. Chinese people are very appreciative of and grateful for the contributions made by the Council, said Dr. Song.

  He then reported on Chinese actions and achievements in economic development and environmental protection. He stressed that the next 30 years will be the most difficult period in China's development history. The most difficult tasks for Chinese people today are environmental protection and economic construction. He regarded it as a battle that the Chinese people must win. He hoped that during the second phase the Council will shift its focus from policy discussion to practical management mechanisms, transforming theory into action and concrete policy measures.

  Secretary-General Xie Zhenhua noted that experts of the CCICED put forward more than 40 recommendations over the past five years of Phase I, covering areas of environmental economic policies, energy strategies, pollution control, cleaner production, biodiversity protection, environmental monitoring and management, and trade and sustainable development. The Chinese Government attaches great importance to these recommendations and has forwarded them to the relevant departments for further study and adoption. Many of them have been implemented or are being implemented, said Xie.

  The Secretary-General also noted that the second phase will involve 22 foreign experts from 17 countries and 28 Chinese specialists and officials from related ministries and commissions. Seven expert Working Groups cover areas of environmental economics, energy strategies and technologies, protection of biodiversity, trade and environment, pollution control, cleaner production and sustainable agriculture. In addition, a task force has been set up by the State Planning Commission and NEPA on environmental protection and strategic national planning. During the meeting, a decision was also made to establish an eighth Working Group on Transportation.

  Throughout the meeting, members reviewed the reports by seven expert Working Groups and the task force. They discussed issues related to these expert groups and their plans for the second phase. They also listened to reports on the implementation of China's Agenda 21 and international environmental conventions. At the Council's invitation, senior officials from Shandong, Tibet and Xiamen briefed the Council on economic development and environmental protection in these three localities. The Secretary General's financial report was also approved at the meeting.

  The recommendations to the Chinese government were discussed and approved by all. This year the Council took a different approach to presenting its recommendations. In order to avoid repetition, the Council pinpointed the most important issues based on the many recommendations put forward by the expert Working Groups. These recommendations were presented to the Chinese government during a meeting with Premier Li Peng at the Zhongnanhai Leaders Compound.

  In her closing speech, Dr. Huguette Labelle noted that the meeting was very successful; the Council achieved its four goals, namely to make new members feel part of a cooperative team with no divisions based on length of service or nationality, to emphasize the spirit of Phase II by identifying practical issues which are relevant to Chinese decision makers, to explore possible ways of attracting financial support, and to select recommendations for consideration by China's State Council.


  Shortly after the CCICED meeting on October 20 1997, a Circular Concerning CCICED Recommendations to the Chinese Government was issued by National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) to governments of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government; relevant ministries and commissions under the State Council; related industrial corporations and the People's Liberation Army. Along with the Circular were the CCICED Recommendations to the Chinese Government and minutes of the CCICED meeting. This is timely action taken by NEPA to follow up the CCICED's first meeting of the second phase.

  The Circular noted that more than 40 recommendations covering many aspects of China's environment and development were put forward to the Chinese government; they have played a positive and facilitating role in integrating environmental protection into economic development in China.

  The Circular suggested that local governments and related agencies take the CCICED Recommendations into consideration in their own environment and development situation. It encourages them to adopt or use the recommendations as reference whenever appropriate in their decision-making.

  The Circular along with the two documents were also sent to members and scientific advisors of the National Environmental Protection Commission under the State Council, members of the CCICED and its Working Groups, as well as local and sectoral environmental protection bureaus all over the country.


  Before and during the Council meeting, two meetings of Working Group co-chairs were held. These meetings were chaired by Julia Marton-Lefèvre and attended by seven WG co-chairs, one Task Force co-chair and other interested members.

  Co-chairs emphasized that better coordination among Working Groups is of critical importance to the success of the Council. Cross-cutting themes can be enhanced and repetition can be avoided with more information exchange among different Working Groups. For that purpose, four recommendations were put forward by the co-chairs to the Council:

  •The Secretariat should provide a list of all Council Members, Working Group/Task Force Co-Chairs and members with detailed contact numbers including e-mail addresses.

  •The Secretariat should set up a Web Page, so that all groups can post their activities, reports, and other relevant materials on the Council's bulletin board on the Internet.

  •The Council should establish a centralized publication committee to publish WG reports for dissemination among Council members as well as to other Chinese and international organizations.

  •Working Group/Task Force co-chairs should meet one day before and one day after the Council's annual meeting each year. It is essential for these co-chairs to discuss various issues to improve coordination.



  The Chinese government has made a decision to stop burning raw coal in large and medium-sized cities by 2000. Instead, these cities will burn only sulfur-stabilized (desulfurized) coal and other clean fuels. (China Economic Information, 11/24/97)


  The revised Land Administration Law will come into effect by April 15 1998. The revised law is required because of the dramatic changes that have occurred and the revision will place land administration under a stronger legal system. More articles will be added to protect arable land. (China News Service, 11/28/97)


  On November 1 1997, The 28th Session of the 8th National People's Congress adopted the Energy Conservation Law of the People's Republic of China. The Law aims to promote energy conservation, raise energy efficiency and economic benefits, and protect the environment and safeguard national economic and social development. It contains six chapters covering general principles, management of energy conservation, rational use of energy, energy efficient technologies, legal responsibility and supplements. The Law will come into effect January 1, 1998. (People's Daily, 11/3/1997)


  The Ministry of Water Resources has revealed that severe subsidence is affecting foundations in 100 cities throughout China, the result of over exploitation of underground water resources. Underground water is the main source of supply in urban areas, and extraction limits have been exceeded in 27 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. (China News Service, 11/28/97)


  At the summit between US President Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin during Jiang's visit in the US, the leaders announced an agreement to enhance energy cooperation in their Sino-US Joint Declaration. In reaffirming the importance of cooperation between the two countries, leaders agreed to adopt a proposal to strengthen energy cooperation in the development of clean energy sources and technology transfer. Major areas covered by the proposal include clean energy, urban air pollution and rural electrification. (China Environment News, 11/1/97)


  China's State Planning Commission announced policy guidelines for water resources. The Guidelines state that the government will give priority to developing the water resources sector and encourage domestic and foreign investment into related projects. The document divided water resource projects into two categories. Group A covers flood prevention, irrigation, and the protection of soil and water resources. Public utilities projects in this group will be controlled by the government and construction costs will also be their responsibility. Group B covers areas that will generate income, such as water supply, hydroelectric power generation, reservoirs, fish farming, and river transportation. Construction costs of this group of projects are to be raised via capital markets.

  The main rationale behind the guidelines is the conservation of water. To reward projects involving little water consumption, the government will offer preferential measures, such as speedy approval by relevant authorities, priority bank loans, and financial assistance from appropriate local governments. In regions where water resources are scarce, projects consuming large volumes of water will be closely scrutinized. (China News Service, 12/03/97)


  As the target for industries along Huai River to meet effluent standards by December 31, 1997 draws to a close (see CCICED Newsletter Vol. 3, No. 3, 1997), The Leading Group of Water Resource Protection of the Huai River Basin sent another two inspection teams to the four provinces along the basin of the Huai River. By the end of October, 662 firms (each discharging more than 100 tons of waste water into the river daily) had met effluent standards, 400 had completed waste treatment schemes but were still pending approval, 606 had treatment schemes underway, and 130 had been shut down.

  Despite progress made, water quality of the river system on the whole had not shown great improvement. There were still 164 companies (10.05%) that had not started their treatment work. The inspection teams found several reasons contributing to this situation, mostly shortage of capital, weak awareness at senior management levels, and poor quality of rush treatment schemes. Some sectors were technically unable to solve their problems. Due to inadequate enforcement, some companies did superficial work in order to pass inspection, a few firms announced closures, but continued their operation and discharged waste water by stealth. (China Environment News, 11/1/97)


  NEPA's Administrator Xie Zhenhua met with Alberta Premier Klein and his delegation on October 16 1997. Xie said that the cooperation between China and Canada is very effective. Alberta has achieved good environmental quality while rapidly developing its energy sector, and China can learn from Alberta's experiences. Xie supported a training program to be provided by Environment Alberta for monitoring personnel in Huai River Basin, and expressed his appreciation for the support from the Government of Alberta. (China Environment News, 10/21/97)

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