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Newsletter (December)



  CCICED's third meeting of the second phase will be held from October 19 to 21, 1999, in the Palace Hotel Beijing. The focus of the meeting will be China's Tenth Five-Year Plan. The CCICED Secretariat has drafted recommendations for the new five-year plan. These recommendations, which are based on work reports and recommendations of working groups, are now being circulated to Council members and working groups for comments. They will be finalized at the October meeting and then presented to a senior Chinese leader.

  Other agenda items for the October meeting include work reports by the secretary general and co-chairs of working groups, general debate on China's Tenth Five-Year Plan, and presentations by relevant ministries, governmental agencies and local authorities on priority issues of the Chinese Government.

  A side trip to Xiamen, one of China's environmental model cities, is being arranged for Council members. Last year, Premier Zhu Rongji recommended a visit to Xiamen when he met with CCICED members. A working group coordination meeting and a focus group meeting for CCICED's self-assessment are scheduled on October 18, before the CCICED plenary meeting.


  China's Tenth Five-Year Plan for 2001-2005 is currently being drafted and there will be fundamental changes from previous five-year plans. It will be the first for "socialist market planning." Market forces will be relied on more than ever since China's implementation of a a "socialist market economy." The new five-year plan will be the first plan of the new millennium and the first in China's three-stage national strategy to achieve "fully-modernized status" by 2050.

  The State Development and Planning Commission's Guidelines for the plan list a number of problems facing China, which the Tenth Five-Year Plan will address. These problems include the present low level of consumption and surplus capacity in the electricity and coal sectors; the diminished role of state-owned enterprises (SOE's) in the economy; SOE's ability to compete in the international market after China's accession to the WTO; unemployment and an unskilled workforce; lack of a unified national market; and economic disparities between regions and between urban and rural areas. It is emphasized in the plan that problems relating to social development, resource utilization and environmental protection warrant a sustainable development strategy.

  Additional measures of the new plan include the following:

  to handle carefully the relationship between reform, development and social stability; and to explore ways in which social change and economic development can be coordinated in a healthy way;

  to make full use of the market, but avoid activities which adversely affect population, resources and the environment;

  to place greater focus on environmental protection. As part of the drive to reduce differences in regional economic development, the government should give more attention to central and western China, and to issues such as water, resources and the environment;

  to carry out reform and open-door policies even more vigorously in the framework of socialist market planning; and

  to complete preliminary thinking on the 10th Five-Year Plan by the end of 1999, finish the Framework Plan by September 2000, and finalize the complete Outline Plan by March 2001.

  The State Development and Planning Commission will concentrate on subjects such as forecasting the consumption level of the population, the nature and rate of urban development, and long-term indications of GDP growth rates. In the past, it was the government that determined key parameters of economic development. In the future, the market will play the major role in determining resource allocation. The new plan will move away from the use of slogans and to new methods that have yet to be defined.

  The State Environmental Protection Administration is also drafting the Tenth Five-Year Plan for the country's environmental protection. It is expected to be completed by the end of the year.


  The Working Group on Energy Strategies and Technology held its 14th meeting in Changchun City, Jilin Province, from July 7 to 9, 1999. The meeting focused on commercial and market mechanisms, the development of China's wind energy strategies, and the establishment of energy models. Biomass, combined heat and power and coal strategy were also discussed.

  Prior to the meeting, a two-day workshop on commercialization of biomass technologies was held in Changchun. A field trip to the Baicheng Biomass Project was also made during the workshop.

  The next meeting of the working group will continue its work on syngas strategy, energy scenarios in China up to 2050, biomass strategy for TVE development, nuclear power, energy efficiency options, and modern energy utilization in industries.

  The Working Group on Environmental Economics held its second annual meeting in Beijing from June 7 to 10, 1999. The working group discussed its research work on environmental taxation, and decided to undertake a study on the assessment of environmental losses in China.

  The meeting of the Working Group on Biodiversty Protection took place in Panyu, Guangzhou, from August 17 to 22. The working group, which has initiated a study on biodiversity issues in Guangdong Province, made preliminary investigations in the province.

  The Working Group on Transportation and Environment made a study trip to Europe from June 4 to 17, studying transportation-related environmental issues in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Czechoslovakia. The working group's third meeting also took place during the trip. During the meeting, recommendations for the Council were finalized and a work plan was discussed for the next year.

  Two successful meetings were convened in Beijing by the Task Force on Economic Planning and Environmental Protection. On July 26 to 27, the "International Meeting on Energy Technology and Finance for China's Sustainable development" was held. Major issues discussed included energy efficiency and environmental performance of China's present economy, energy efficiency and environmental performance of new economic activities, the key role of technology in achieving sustainable development, the development of strong and competitive environmental industries, the interface between government and market-oriented enterprises, and the linkage of financial system reform to sustainable development. Three specific proposals came out of the meeting: developing a sound long-term energy strategy, strengthening China's policy research capabilities, and continuing the dialogue started at the meeting.

  On July 29 to 30, the task force convened the "International Review Meeting on the Development of an Integrated System for Decision-making on Economic Planning and Environmental Protection in China." The meeting focused its discussion on the planning process in China, the financial system, the involvement of enterprises in sustainable development, public participation in planning, the role of education and other institutional aspects.

  Two important proposals made at the meeting were 1) to establish an environmental and development policy office and 2) to analyze the issues of decision-making and institutional reform in three specific sectors, namely energy, forests and water.


  A draft amendment to the Law on the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution was submitted to the 11th Session of the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC), which took place on August 24-30, 1999. The draft, which was proposed by the NPC Environmental and Resources Protection Committee, would be the second amendment to the law. The law was adopted in 1987 and amended in 1995.

  The draft revision provides for tougher measures to combat air pollution. It proposes to prohibit the discharge of air pollutants above a certain level and impose fines for such discharges. This is a major revision from the existing pollution levy which only imposes small charges for the discharge of pollutants when they exceed legal limits. Fines collected will be earmarked for alleviating air pollution.

  The draft also targets two other major air pollution sources -- car emissions and dust from construction sites.

  The draft suggests that 180 billion yuan(US$21.7 billion) go to areas suffering from acid rain and sulfur dioxide. The goal is to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions to 10-million tons by 2010. The draft suggests that 34 heavily-polluted cities receive between 120-150 billion yuan (US$14.5-15.1 billion). Six hundred - 800 million yuan (US$72.3-96.4 million) should be spent on each of the coastal cities, Fuzhou, Shantou and Zhanjiang and Suzhou. Major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai should spend between 25 - 30 billion yuan (US$3.1-3.6 billion) on pollution prevention. Other cities should spend between 1.5-2 billion yuan (US$200-240 million) to improve environmental quality.

  The draft estimated that investment in reducing vehicle exhaust emissions be between 0.3% to 07% of GDP.

  To address dust pollution, the draft suggests regular air pollution checks to ensure proper implementation of air pollution regulations.

  The 11th Session also reviewed a draft law on the maritime environment. Increasing maritime pollution, the deteriorating maritime environment and economic lasses caused by marine pollution were factors in the draft. Red tide has occurred along both the northern and southern Chinese coasts since 1997 causing tens of millions of yuan in economic losses.

  Among related draft regulations discussed by the 11th Session was a provisional draft concerning judicial supervision. China's top lawmakers are considering using their supervisory function to curb corruption among judges and law enforcement officers by exercising jurisdiction over major cases that have been improperly handled. The draft, submitted by NPC Civil and Legal Committee (CLC), will form the basis for the formulation of the long-awaited supervision law. The idea behind the draft is that the fight against judicial corruption needs an internal supervision system handled by judiciary bodies and the outside supervision of legislative bodies.


  China Invests Heavily in Anti-Flood Projects.

  The Chinese government made water conservancy projects a priority this year. By July 1999, 6,200 km of embankments were reinforced, including areas along the Yangtze and Yellow rivers and Dongting, Poyang and Taihu lakes. In addition, 4.6 million tons of silt from river beds were removed. As a result, China has suffered less economic losses from flooding this year despite higher water levels in some parts of the Yangtze compared to last year.

  Investment for the first six months of 1999 reached 63 billion yuan (US$7.6 billion), of which 46.5 billion yuan (US$5.6 billion) came from the issuance of treasury bonds. Taking into account loans from the World Bank and foreign governments, investment in water conservancy amounted to 100 billion yuan (US$12 billion), three times the 1995-1997 figure. (Xinhuan News Agency)

  Beijing Residents to Pay Garbage Fees.

  The Beijing Bureau of Environmental and Health Administration has announced that residential waste disposal fees will be imposed starting October 1999 to offset a shortage of government funding and to improve waste disposal management. Families will have to pay 3 yuan (US$0.36) per month. Those without permanent Beijing residential registration will have to pay 2 yuan (US$0.24) per month. Each year, approximately 130-million yuan (US$15.7 million) will be collected to help dispose of residential waste produced in Beijing. The fees collected will pay for 30% of the city's waste disposal expenses.

  Beijing now has eight large-scale garbage treatment plants and dozens of smaller ones. Residential waste disposal is currently 53% of total waste disposal. (China Daily)

  Coal-Bed Methane Development with Foreign Companies.

  The exploration of coalbed methane (CBM) fields will be expedited through cooperation with foreign companies. The nine coalbed methane blocks that have been approved for foreign cooperation are in the areas of Huainan and Huaibei of Anhui, eastern areas of the Taihang Mountains in North China, and Linxing, Sanjiao, North Sanjiao, Shilou and Liulin areas in Shanxi, and Fencheng of Jiangxi.

  The China United Coalbed Methane Co Ltd. (CUCBM) has been given the exclusive right to undertake the development of CBM in these areas with the cooperation of foreign companies. CUCBM is currently negotiating with several foreign partners. They have already successfully signed six contracts with four companies from the Untied States: Texaco Inc., Arco, Phillips and SABA Petroleum Inc. (China Daily)

  Sichuan Bans Timber Transportation.

  Southwest China's Sichuan Province banned the transportation of timber out of the province's Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Ganzi Qiang Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, the Ya'an Prefecture and the cities of Panzhihua and Leshan.

  Since last September, Sichuan has banned the felling of 4.6 million hectors of old forests along the Yangtze in Aba, and in Ganzi, Liangshan, Panzhihua, Leshan and Ya'an. These areas contain vast regions of old forests, 3.7 million hectors of shrubs, more than 2,000 kinds of precious plants and more than 500 animal species. (China Daily)

  Forest Protection Enhanced.

  The State Forestry Administration launched a massive forest protection project to restore forests in China's Greater Hinggan Mountains within 50 years. Seventy-five per cent of the 6 million hectors in the Greater Hinggan Mountains are included in the project's first phase.

  An ambitious forest protection project was started after last year's heavy flooding of the Yangtze, Nenjiang and Songhua rivers; under the new project, logging is limited or banned in state-owned forest areas along the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers. Timber output is to be reduced to 2.14 million cubic metres by the end of 2000, or 38% less than than in 1997. The central government and commercial banks will also allocate funds to help 220,000 affected lumbermen in the region move into afforestation, forest protection and other industries.

  According to the State Forestry Administration, the government is determined to increase forest coverage from 13.9% to 19.4% within the next 10 years.

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