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China Taking Measures to Conserve Resources, Protect Environment

Conserving resources and the environment is a basic state policy of China and the Chinese government is taking measures to deal with the challenge, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Zhou Wenzhong said Tuesday.

Delivering a speech at the World Environment Center's forum in Washington DC, Zhou said the Chinese Government has given prominence to "building a resource-conserving and environment-friendly society" in the strategy for industrialization and modernization.

Premier Wen Jiabao has mentioned that China gave high priority to conserving resources and making protecting the environment obligatory, said Zhou.

"It has already set the goals -- reducing energy consumption per unit GDP by 20 percent, and cutting total emissions of major pollutants by 10 percent during the 11th five-year plan period," he said.

"In recent years, the Chinese government has enhanced macro control and stepped up industrial upgrading, in an effort to make industrial structures, modes of growth, and consumption patterns more conducive to conserving resources and the environment," he added.

However, Zhou acknowledged that there are many problems in the Chinese economy that could hamper its steady and sustainable development, these include: high liquidity, a large trade surplus, excessive investment, and the rise in the price of commodities.

"Among many others, a major problem is the conflict between economic and social development on the one hand and resources and the environment on the other," he said, adding that some important drinking water sources in China were affected

"The Chinese government attaches great importance to this issue, and has been taking effective measures to address it," said the ambassador, noting that, due to the Chinese government's strong policies, China saw a 3.27 percent year-on-year drop in energy intensity in 2007 for each unit of GDP.

In 2007, emissions of sulfur dioxide and chemical oxygen demand (COD) in China began to decrease by 3.14 percent and 4.66 percent respectively from the previous year. And in the first three quarters of 2007, China shut down old-fashioned production facilities, notably 25 million tons of cement, 400,000 tons of calcium carbide, 11 million tons of coke, 9.69 million tons of iron, 8.73 million tons of steel, 1.7 million tons of paper making, and 350,000 tons of alcohol brewing.

Zhou said that China attaches great importance to climate change, and over the past 26 years, China's energy consumption per unit GDP dropped by 64.5 percent. Meanwhile, forest coverage is growing, and has played an important role in controlling greenhouse gas emission.

China will do its best to carry out the national plan for tackling climate change, and will, in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, honor its due international responsibilities and obligations based on the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities," he added.

"We will work to achieve the specific goals of cutting energy consumption, increasing renewable energy, raising forest coverage, and developing a low-carbon economy," he added.

Founded in 1974, the World Environment Center is an independent, global non-profit, non-advocacy organization. One of its missions is to foster cutting-edge ideas about economic development, environmental protection and social responsibility through roundtables and other forums.

(Xinhua News Agency March 26, 2008)

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