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China's International Cooperation on Environmental Protection

State Environmental Protection Administration

August 3, 2006

While it is devoted to addressing domestic environmental issues, China takes the initiative to conduct international cooperation in the environment field through a variety of forms, endeavors to solve regional environmental issues together with neighboring countries, opens multilateral and bilateral channels for exchanges and cooperation, and makes unremitting efforts to seek the solution of regional and global environmental problems together with the international community.

I. To actively engage in multilateral environmental affairs and perform the duties under relevant international conventions

China takes the initiative to attend the global environmental protection process that is initiated by United Nations and other international agencies. For years, China has been sending senior delegations of representatives to take part in all previous meetings of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, the World Summit on Sustainable Development as well as a series of preparatory meetings. China has undertaken fruitful cooperation with United Nations Environmental Programs (UNEP) in the fields of prevention and control of desertification, biodiversity conservation, preservation of ozone layer, cleaner production, circular economy, environmental education and trainings, flood prevention and control in the upper and middle reaches of Yangtze River, action plan on regional seas, and the Global Program of Action for the Protection of Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA). Effective means of cooperation have been created between China and UNDP, World Bank, Asia Development Bank, and other international organizations.

 China adopts positive attitudes towards the negotiation and implementation of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). As a contracting party to more than 50 environmental conventions including United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes, Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, Convention on Biological Diversity and Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and UN Convention to Combat Desertification, China actively implements the duties under those conventions. The progress in the implementation of the two conventions concerning hazardous wastes and POPs are shown as follows.

1. In accordance with the requirements to implement the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes, China has taken the following measures in terms of the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes.

1) Improvements on Laws, Regulations and Standards on the Import and Export of Wastes

China promulgated the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention of Environmental Pollution Caused by Solid Wastes (hereinafter referred to as Law on Solid Wastes) in 1996, and revised it on December 29, 2004. The Law on Solid Wastes clearly stipulates that the producer, seller, importer and user of the products shall be held responsible for the prevention and control of pollution caused by solid wastes therefrom by law (Article 5).

This Law also has explicit provisions on prohibition of imports, import examination and approval, regulation of the hazardous wastes catalogue, environmental standards, inspection and quarantine, as well as penalties. In accordance with the Law on Solid Wastes, China has enacted the Interim Provisions on Administration of Environmental Protection on Import of Wastes, and issued List of Waste Used as Raw Materials under Automatic Import License Category and List of Waste Used as Raw Materials and Restricted in Import. Wastes other than those in the two lists are prohibited from imports. In addition, State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) formulated the Standards for Environmental Protection of Imported Solid Wastes Used as Raw Materials together with State Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision and Quarantine, providing that the imported wastes shall comply with the above standards. Since China strictly controls the import and export of wastes, there’re no reports concerning pollution accidents in other countries caused by exported wastes from China. However, accidents do occur frequently due to wastes imported illegally from other countries. Some of the domestic and overseas enterprises transfer wastes illicitly from overseas to China in the name of importing used resources, which triggers severe pollution. For example, in March 2005, one company registered in a neighboring country exported 6,000 tons of waste plastics to QingdaoCity fraudulently by hiding a large quantity of hazardous and toxic used materials underneath the goods, which caused heavy pollution to local environment.

2) Improvements on Laws and Regulations to Prevent Pollution Caused by Hazardous Wastes

China enacted and promulgated Provisions on the Management of Medical Wastes, Measures on the Management of Operation Permit of Hazardous Wastes, and Measures on the Management of Duplicated Form for Transfer of Hazardous Wastes. China exercises the cradle-to-grave regulation on hazardous wastes, and implements the operation permit management system to units engaged in the collection, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes.

3) Construction of Facilities to Dispose Hazardous Wastes

On December 19, 2005, the State Council approved the implementation of the National Plan on the Construction of Disposal Facilities of Hazardous Wastes and Medical Wastes, which proposes to build 31 comprehensive centers to dispose hazardous wastes, increasing the disposal capacity by 2.82 million tons/year, and 300 facilities for centralized disposal of medical wastes, with the disposal capacity in this regard up by 2,080 tons/day. China has been improving its capacity on the treatment and disposal of domestic hazardous wastes.

4) Trainings on Hazardous Wastes Management and Technical Transfer

China sets up the Asia-PacificCenter for the Trainings on Hazardous Wastes Management and Technical Transfer in the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, TsinghuaUniversity. The Center has provided trainings on the treatment and disposal of hazardous wastes as well as technical transfer, which contributes to improving the managerial level of hazardous wastes in China and other Asia-Pacific countries.

2. China has actively implemented the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and already taken the following actions.

1) Improvements on laws and regulations on POPs

In 2002, the State Council issued the Regulations on the Safety Management of Hazardous Chemicals, which has provisions on the intended production, use, packaging, transport, storage, import and export of hazardous chemicals as well as the supervision and regulation of major risk sources. In accordance with this regulation, the State Council also promulgated relevant measures and standards for the safety management, including the formulation and implementation of emission standards for Dioxins in several industries such as waste incineration. The existing Law on Environmental Impact Assessment, Law on the Promotion of Cleaner Production, and Regulations on the Management of Environmental Protection for Construction Projects also provide legal basis for the reduction and control of intended POPs production.

Wastes that contain POPs have been listed in the National Catalogue of Hazardous Wastes and shall be regulated by Law on the Prevention of Environmental Pollution Caused by Solid Wastes, Measures on the Prevention of Environmental Pollution Caused by Waste Hazardous Chemicals and Technical Policies on the Prevention of Pollution Caused by Hazardous Wastes.

Measures on the Prevention of Environmental Pollution Caused by Waste Hazardous Chemicals, which was issued and implemented in 2005, has provisions on the restoration of sites polluted by POPs. Regulations on the Management of Pesticides shall apply to POPs used as pesticides.

2) National Investigation and research on POPs

At present, China has fully and systematically investigated and learned the situation about the production, circulation, use and export and import of POPs; identified the potential discharging industries and key enterprises of POPs such as dioxin, calculated the situation of discharge of dioxin POPs in China in the survey of sampling and the tool kit recommended by the UN; and at the same time, conducted the investigation by sampling the polluted sites and proposed the investigation plan and preliminary list of elimination and polluted sites; fully evaluated the managing organization, laws, regulations and policy and the related technologies for treatment, disposal and substitution of POPS in China.

3) Implementation of International Conventions

For the time being, China has basically completed the drafted National Scheme for the Implementation of International Conventions. We have listed the requirement in the conventions clearly into the adjustment policy on the relevant industries in China and, according to the overall deployment of implementation of conventions in China, proposed the products and technologies which the State shall encourage, limit and eliminate; clarified the related standards on pollution control, the standards on environmental quality, the technical guidance and norms which shall be formulated and amended in 2006 and during the 11th Five-Year Plan.

4) The Demonstration projects for Implementation of Conventions

Our country has been actively organizing, applying for and implementing demonstration projects for implementation of conventions. The demonstration projects of implementation of conventions have been developed fully in the three fields of POPs such as PCB, pesticide and side products, which have laid the foundation for implementing conventions nationwide. Furthermore, we have developed wide bilateral cooperation with Italy, Japan, Canada and the US concerning the cooperation in capacity building, deduction of POPs in side products, risk of exposure to human body and elimination of POPs of pesticide.

II. To Strengthen the cooperation with the neighboring countries and make efforts to solve the regional environmental problems

China has strengthened and promoted the cooperation with the neighboring countries and the related regions, actively taken part in the mechanism building of regional cooperation and tried its best to solve the regional environmental matters. The regional environmental cooperation mechanisms in the Asia-Pacific region China has actively promoted and taken part in include dozens of mechanisms of regional environmental cooperation, such as the Conference of Environment Ministers of China, South Korea and Japan which shall periodically discuss and negotiate the solution of environmental matters of common concern, the environmental cooperation among the ASEAN and China (10+1), the environmental cooperation among the ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea (10+3), East Asia Acid Rain Monitoring Network, the regional environmental cooperation in the Northeast Asia and the conference of environmental cooperation in the Northeast Asia, the cooperation of dust storm monitoring and pre-warning in the Northeast Asia, the environmental cooperation among the Greater Mekong Sub-region. All of these mechanisms have played an active and effective role in communicating information, taking common actions to prevent and reduce the regional environmental matters.

Taking dust storm as an example, in June 2000, the State Environmental Protection Administration started the project of "Research on the Effect of Dust Storm and Sand on the Particle in the Air in the Beijing", using such high-tech as remote sensing and laser radar to set up the monitoring network for ground dust, which covers the monitoring sites in such provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities as Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Shaanxi, Beijing, Xinjiang, Shanxi. China has cooperated with Mongolia in the monitoring and pre-warning of dust storm. In October 2002, the State Environmental Protection Administration held the international seminar on the monitoring of dust storm in which Japan, South Korea and Mongolia took part. In December 2003, the high level conference on sand storm was held in Beijing and the heads and senior officials from environmental agencies of Japan, South Korean Mogolia and North Korea were invited to take part in. The four countries of China, Japan, South Korea and Mongolia and such international organizations as Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Environment Program cooperated to sponsor the Technical Assistance Project on the Prevention and Treatment of Dust Storm in the Northeast Asia by Asian Development Bank/the Global Environmental Fund, which was initiated in April 2003.

Taking the acid subsidence in the East Asia as another example. Under the common efforts of the countries in the sub-region of East Asia and the UNEP, the EANET was set up, including 13 countries in the East Asian regions including China. Its aim is to exchange the monitoring data and technology of acid subsidence in each country, enhance the public awareness and provide the basis for the decision-making of the government of each country. In October 1998, China took part in the trial operation of the monitoring network of acid subsidence in the East Asia and set up the China Branch of the Monitoring Network. The four cities of Chongqing, Xi'an, Xiamen and Zhuhai undertake the concrete monitoring. From the year 2002, Chinese Government takes the initiative to be committed to donations to this network.

China is actively engaged in the environmental protection in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), such as the Phase II cooperation program on environmental monitoring and information system in GMS, poverty alleviation and environmental management in remote areas of this region, as well as Phase II cooperation program on strategic environmental frameworks. China also successfully held the first session of Meeting of Environmental Ministers in Greater Mekong Sub-region in ShanghaiCity from May 24 to 26, 2005. One of the outcomes of the meeting is Joint Declaration of Environmental Ministers in Greater Mekong Sub-region. Those activities have helped to promote the mutual trust and understandings among GMS countries and played a positive role in the environmental protection and economic development.

China has held the theme activity of China Environmental Protection Facing Africa to promote the communication and cooperation in the field of environmental protection between China and Africa. In 2005, China and the UNEP held the Conference of Environmental Protection Cooperation between China and Africa and assisted in building the UNEP, China and AfricaCenter for Environmental Cooperation in the Republic of the Congo. Chinese Government held Seminar on Water Pollution and Water Resources Management of the African countries to help the African countries to conduct environmental training. In June 2006, the Seminar on Water Pollution and Water Resources Management of Arabian Countries was held in Beijing to help the Arabian countries to develop environmental training. In July 2006, the Seminar on the Ecological Environmental Management of Shanghai Cooperation Organization was held in Beijing, China.

III. To Actively Develop Bilateral Cooperation and Strengthen the Communication and Cooperation in Environmental Protection with the Countries in the World

China has been actively engaged in bilateral cooperation with developed countries, neighboring countries and developing countries, and signed the bilateral agreement on the cooperation of environmental protection or MOU with 42 countries such as the US, Germany, Japan, Canada, Russia, South Korea, India, Mongolia, North Korea, Brazil, South Africa, and signed the bilateral agreements on nuclear safety or MOU with 11 countries. China has developed the wide communication and cooperation in such aspects as policy, laws and regulations on environment, prevention and treatment of pollution, protection of biodiversity, climate change, sustainable production and consumption, capacity building, demonstration projects, environmental technology and industries of environmental protection and made many important achievements. China developed the cooperation in many aspects of environmental protection under the free bilateral assistance projects with 13 countries and international organization such as EU, Japan, Germany and Canada.

China-German environmental protection has made steady progress. The cooperation between the two countries began in the 1980s and has made many achievements in recent years. The China-Germany Conference of Environmental Cooperation held in 2000, the First China-Germany Conference of Forum on Environmental Cooperation held in 2003, the China-Germany Conference of Cooperation of Environmental Management and Small and Medium Enterprises held in Xiangtan, Hunan Province in October, 2004, the Second China-Germany Forum on Environment held in Qingdao in January 2006 and the Qingdao Proposal published by both sides and the China-Germany Seminar on Management of Chemicals held in Beijing in July, 2006, showed that the environmental cooperation between China and Germany is developing healthily. Germany has supported to the China International Cooperative Commission of Environment and Development. The cooperation of environment between China and Germany has extended from the general communication of personnel to the fields of economy, technology and industries and cooperated in such fields as environmental research, technology development, personnel training and communication and environmental model engineering, which has played an active role in enhancing technical level of environmental management and environmental fields in China and promoting the cooperation of business and trade in environmental industry in both countries. At present, China and Germany are communicating on the environmental cooperation after 2007.

(China Development Gateway August 3, 2006)

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