Home>News Center>CCICED Newsletter>1999

Newsletter (March)



  The Chinese government is now in the process of formulating its 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-2005) for national economic and social development. This will be significant not only to China's economic development, but also to its sustainable development strategy. As a high-level consultative body on environment and development, the China Council (CCICED) has been asked to participate in the formulating process by providing viewpoints on which issues demand most attention for the upcoming Five-Year Plan.


  US EPA Administrator Carol Browner, heading a US environmental delegation, visited China on March 18-27. Browner was invited by SEPA to visit China to inspect implementation of the Sino-US cooperation project on the monitoring of urban air quality, which was launch in 1998 during US President Bill Clinton's visit to China. During her stay in Beijing, Browner had talks with Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao, and senior officials of SEPA, the State Development Planning Commission and the Environmental and Natural Resources Protection Committee of the National People's Congress.

  During Browner's talk with Minister of SEPA Xie Zhenhua, the top environmental officials of the two nations agreed that China and US have great potential to strengthen collaboration in environmental protection, and indicated both countries are ready and willing to cooperate extensively on environmental protection, resources conservation and sustainable development. They discussed proposed projects for cooperation in the near future. The US delegation raised 12 projects mainly regarding air quality assessment, reduction of air pollution and the relationship between air pollution and respiratory diseases. A Sino-US workshop on market-based mechanisms for pollution control was also held during the visit of the US delegation.


  Beijing is determined to improve its environmental quality by October 1, 1999, when it celebrates the 50th anniversary of the country.

  According to the city's environmental protection bureau, air pollution has improved since last December, when 18 measures aimed at controlling coal burning pollution, vehicle pollution and dust were adopted. Data show that nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide in the air have decreased by over 10 percent in January compared with the previous month.

  So far, more than 16,700 stoves within the Third Ring Road have shifted to low-sulfur coal, natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas. Nearly 40,000 vehicle in poor condition were taken off the roads, and about 600 buses and taxis using liquefied petroleum gas or natural gas are now running through the downtown area.

  To further the clean up of the city, the municipal government adopted 28 new measures in the first week of March 1999, which comprehensively address the various environmental problems of the city. These new measures include dust control, construction sites, garbage collection, building of a non coal-burning zone, and promotion of natural gas us. Automobile manufacturers will be responsible for controlling exhaust emission from cars they have sold in the city. Every organization in the city is ordered to maintain their green lots, and plant more trees.


  Between November 4-11, 1998, the Working Group on Pollution Control held workshops in Shanghai, Suzhou and Beijing on CO2 emission control demonstration project, comprehensive environmental assessment and forecast guidance, and acid rain. The Working Group will hold its first meeting of 1999 in Hawaii, USA, from April 20 to 30.

  The 13th meeting of the Working Group on Energy Strategies and Technologies took place January 20-22, 1999 in Beijing. The major topics of the meeting were co-generation and a market-based sustainable energy mechanism. The Working Group also organized two single day workshops in Beijing on January 18-19, 1999. The first workshop covered the recovery of coal-bed methane via both conventional technology and CO2 injection into the coal-bed. The second workshop dealt with the coal-bed methane-based hydrogen economy for China.

  The Working Group on Transportation held a workshop on urban transportation and the environment in Beijing from March 29-31, 1999. Representatives from Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dalian, Guiyang, and Hong Kong Special Administration Region as well as related ministries, departments and some international experts attended the workshop.

  In preparing the workshop, a meeting was held in Beijing on February 5, 1999. Two co-chairs of the working group, Mr. Wang Yangzu and Dr. Petersen, as well as some local experts attended. The agenda, the objectives and the organization of the meeting were discussed.

  The meeting was a chance to exchange experience on how to integrate urban transport and environmental protection, to discuss how to improve policies for the integration of urban transport and environmental protection, and to introduce a pilot research agenda with a list of pilot projects on urban transport and the environment.

  The Working Group on Trade and Environment will hold its first meeting of the year in Beijing on April 16-17, 1999. The meeting will review four completed projects and two ongoing projects. Also to be discussed is the preparation of the report of the working group to the CCICED this year. Other agenda items include future work programs and the following meetings of the working group. Four project studies completed by the working group are as follows: a policy review of China's foreign trade and environmental policies, the impact of EU and Japanese environmental standards for textile productions on China's textile exports, international rules on investment and sustainable development, and clean coal technology transfer. The two ongoing projects are studies on the trade liberalization and sustainable development of APEC, and an international study on clean coal technology transfer.

  On June 28-29, 1999, the Task Force on Economic Planning and Environmental Protection plans to organize an international conference to discuss finance and technology of the energy sector in China. Finance and technology for the energy sector is one of four major topics of the task force. The meeting is the first in a series of international discussions on this topic that aims to clarify some major issues for further consideration, to define specific opportunities for cooperation, and to make some preliminary recommendations on the establishment. It also intends to implement a long-term sustainable energy strategy, examine a way to stimulate the flow of finance to implement sustainable energy strategy, and a method to facilitate the acquisition and production of energy-efficient and environmentally sound technologies.


  In his report on the work of the government to the Second Session of the Ninth National People's Congress, Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji stated that China will continue to carry out s sustainable development strategy and protect natural resources and the ecological environment while developing its national economy.

  The premier noted that development of ecological projects in certain areas and the development of projects to protect natural forests in the upper reaches of Yangtze and Yellow rivers are in full swing. Initial results show a reduction in pollution in the Huaihe River and Taihu Lake. The efforts to improve and protect environmental quality have been intensified.

  "We should always bear in mind our responsibility to the people and our future generations, improving planning for resources and their management, avoiding waste of resources for short-term gains, protecting resources and making a more comprehensive use of resources," Zhu said.

  Efforts should be made to enhance public awareness of the importance of environmental protection, especially in the control and treatment of pollution in coastal areas, valleys and major cities and their surrounding regions.

  The premier stressed that enterprises discharging pollutants at levels exceeding standards should remedy the situation within a specified time. Those that fail to do so will be closed down. He also stated that control of air pollution in Beijing is a major task being tackled this year and asked relevant departments of the State Council to give full support to this effort. Zhu requested stricter enforcement on formulating urban and rural development plans as well as implementing them, punishing those who violate stipulations of the plans.

  The premier also called for further efforts to improve the responsibility system for attaining population and birth control targets, extra effort is to be focused on rural areas and the floating population.

  The Second Session of the Ninth National People's Congress took place in Beijing from March 5-15, 1999. The legislature endorsed China's landmark constitution amendments, which enshrine the "rule of law" and increase the status of private businesses. The meeting also ratified a unified contract law replacing the existing Economic Contract Law, the Law on Economic Contracts Involving Foreign Enterprises and the Law on Technology Contracts. Premier Zhu's report on the work of the government obtained the highest approval rating from the delegates of the session. Zhu pledged to adopt measures to expand consumer demand and increase deficit spending to spur the economy to a growth of seven percent in 1999.


  1999 is the most important year to implement environmental protection goals set by the Ninth Five-Year Plan for the period of 1996-2000. Efforts should be concentrated on total control of major pollutants. Key urban areas and major industrial pollution sources should attain air and water quality standards. This was the message from Xie Zhenhua, Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, at the annual national conference on environmental protection, opened on March 13, 1999.

  Xie noted that China spent more than 80 billion yuan (US$9.6 billion) in 1998 on the environment, more than 1% of the country's GDP. The overall emissions of major pollutants across the country in the year declined or kept at the same level as the previous year. The capacity to treat pollutants was enhanced and the ability to attain environmental standards increased. The overall environmental quality has remained the same with moderate improvement in some regions. There are still some environmental issues that demand immediate attention.

  The minister emphasized that in order to increase environmental protection and increase air and water quality in 1999, total control of major pollutants in key urban areas and of major industrial pollution sources, must be made the responsibility of relevant governments at all levels. Each region, city and enterprise should be gradually committed to implement the plan set by the State to attain environmental standards. New sources of pollution should be prevented and approval procedures for new construction projects are to be strictly implemented. Efforts should also be made to control pollution of existing sources, phasing out old equipment and processes.

  The five categories of small-scale factories (small coal-mining, small refinery, small cement, small coal-fired power plants and small metallurgy) that are the cause of serious pollution must stop operating or be shut down. Pollution-generating factories will be closed if they have not met the new environmental standards within a set period, said Xie.

  Pivotal tasks in pollution control affect certain cities, regions, river basins and coastal regions. Efforts should be intensified controlling the pollution of the three rivers (Huaihe, Haihe and Liaohe), the three lakes (Taihu, Chaohu and Dianchi), Beijing and Bohai Sea, as well as controlling acid rain and sulfur dioxide emission. The priority is to treat atmospheric pollution in Beijing, the country's capital. Other cities are to continue their efforts in municipal sewage treatment, garbage disposal, improving environmental protection infrastructure, energy structure transformation, and control of vehicle exhaust and noise pollution.

  Other efforts include protecting the national environment, in particular upper reaches of the major rivers, important wetlands and special ecological systems.

  Xie urged environmental protection agencies and workers not to be afraid of offending polluters. He recommended they take violators to court to defend environmental protection laws.


  Party Committee Emphasizes Ecology and Population 

  On March 13, 1999, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held a work conference on population, resources and the environment in the Great Hall of the People. High-ranking Party and government officials attended the conference. President Jiang Zemin, also general secretary of the CPC, noted at the conference that a very large population, shortage of resources and serious environmental pollution are factors hindering China's economic and social development. China must control its population, protect natural resources and maintain a sound ecological environment while achieving economic growth, says Jiang.

  Close attention should be paid to coordinating economic efforts with population control and resource and environmental protection efforts in order to realize China's cross-century goals for sustainable economic and social development. CPC committee and governments at all levels must fully understand what needs to be done to ensure the subsistence and development of the Chinese nation. Governments should take every opportunity to adjust their industrial structures and strengthen infrastructure in order to enhance environmental protection, Jiang said at the meeting. (People's Daily, 03/14/99)

  Tougher Vehicle Rules Adopted 

  The State Technical Supervision Administration has declared four new standards tightening controls on vehicle emissions. The new rules will apply to vehicles manufactured after January 1, 2000, and will cut emissions by 80%. The administration is also drafting new standards for unleaded gasoline and diesel fuels. (China Daily, 03/18/99)

  Green Hope Project Launched 

  A Green Hope Project has been launched in China, which focuses on tree planting along China's two longest rivers - the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. Under the slogan "protect our mother rivers," the Green Hope Project was launched by the Communist Youth League, the National Afforestation Committee, the Ministry of Water Resources, the State Forestry Bureau and the China Youth Development Foundation. The project calls on people from all walks of life, especially the youth, to help with the reforestation project which will help reduce solid erosion in the areas surrounding the two rivers. (China Daily, 03/16/99)

  New China-UNDP Energy Program Launched 

  A new project to promote the commercialization of renewable energy technologies in China was launched in early March by the United Nations Development Programme and the Chinese Government. The US$25.83 million project is financed by the Global Environment Facility through UNDP (US$8.8 million), the Government of Australia (US$3 million), the Government of the Netherlands (US$2.53 million) and the Chinese Government (US$11.5 million). The project will last five years, from March 1999 to December 2003. It will be carried out by the State Economic and Trade Commission with assistance from the State Environmental Protection Administration, and will be supervised by UNDP's Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (China Daily, 03/10/99)

  China-Norway Environmental Cooperation 

  A two-day Sino-Norwegian Seminar on Environmental Cooperation took place on March 15-16, 1999. Guro Fjellanger, Norwegian Environmental Minister, said in Beijing that China's commitment to confronting huge environmental challenges at home, and its sincerity in international cooperation make it an important partner in global efforts to achieve sustainable development. She affirmed that Norway attaches great importance to cooperating with China's environmental protection.

  Zhu Guangyao, Vice Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, said China is willing to strengthen environmental cooperation and exchange with Norway. During the meeting, SEPA and the Norwegian Environmental Ministry signed a cooperative workplan for 1999-2000. It was in 1995 that the two countries first signed a memorandum of understanding on environmental protection. (China Daily, 03/16/99)

  '99 Eco-Tour Kicked Off 

  China launched its '99 Eco-Tour program on January 1, 1999, in Guilin. The program is a national project designed to link China's environment with tourism. The State Environmental Protection Administration is assisting local authorities in preserving their ecology for economic benefit. SEPA noted that 70% of China's tourism involves tourists visiting natural attractions and cultural relics. SEPA is also cooperating with the China National Tourism Administration on promoting the program, which aims to build tourism in areas containing biodiversity. China is the sixth largest tourist destination in the world. (China Environmental Review, Feb-Mar 1999)

  Five More ISO 14000 Certification Bodies Approved 

  China Accreditation Committee for Environmental Management Systems approved another five Chinese certification bodies to award ISO14000 to companies. To date there are six ISO14000 certification bodies in China: China Centre for Environmental Management Systems in Beijing, Shenzhen Environmental Management System Certification Centre, Shanghai Electronic Industry and Instrumentation Quality Audit Institute, Shanghai Audit Centre, Cepreiems Certification Body in Guangzhou, and the Certification Centre of Environmental Management System affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. China Centre for EMS is by far the largest certification body in China, which is affiliated with SEPA. As of February 1999 it has certified 98 organizations. (China Environmental Review, Feb-Mar 1999)

  Coastal Pollution Worsened 

  A recent survey by the State Oceanographic Administration reveals that there is widespread coastal pollution in China. It indicates that "no marine areas off China are free from inorganic pollutants." The survey covered bays, estuaries and seas near most major cities. The area surrounding the Yangtze estuary, an important industrial zone, had twice the inorganic nitrogen and phosphorous content than that set by the national water quality standards. The Administration pointed out that the coastal zones do not have the capacity to bear such high levels of pollution, and called for comprehensive control of land-based discharge of pollutants. (China Environmental Review, Feb-Mar 1999)

Contact Us:

Address:5 Houyingfang Hutong,Xicheng District,Beijing 100035 P.R.Chinazip code:100035

Copyright © 2020 Secretariat of China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development. All Rights Reserved. Presented by China Daily.