The Bohai Sea Cleaning Plan, launched by the central government recently, signifying China’s efforts to improve the environment, has extended from land to sea.
Official sources said the Chinese government is to spend about 60 billion yuan (about US$7.2 billion) within 15 years to deal with the pollution in Bohai Sea.
Experts disclosed that economic losses due to pollution accounts for four to eight percent of the country’s gross national product (GNP) every year. The flooding in 1998 alone left over 200 people homeless, cost the lives of over 3,000 people and resulted in over 160 billion yuan in direct economic losses.
Pollution dampens the country’s efforts for sustainable economic development and threatens national security. China’s central government’s working report in 1999 first introduced “clean industry inspiration” into official documents, requiring all the contaminating enterprises to make reforms or they would be closed.
Frank E. Loy, under-secretary for Global Affairs for the United States once said if China does not tackle ecological problems now, it will probably take the place of the United States in two or three decades to become the country to discharge the largest amount of greenhouse gases in the world.
Beijing, the capital city, listed among the world’s 10 most seriously polluted cities, will invest 3 percent of its gross domestic product this year in piping natural gas from northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, which will reduce auto exhaust emissions. About 600,000 autos in Beijing have not been allowed to be on the roads for too much exhaust emission.
Harbin, an old heavy industrial city in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, decided to allocate 30 billion yuan (about US$3.6 billion) over three years, to eliminate all industrial pollution sources, substituting coal with natural gas as the main source of energy and planting more trees, developing the city into one of the cleanest ones.
Besides, southwestern Yunnan Province, east China’s Anhui, Jiangsu and Shandong provinces are all striving to improve their environmental conditions.
China is ranked at the top in sulfur dioxide discharge in the world, the second in carbon dioxide, and the third in acid rain. Among the 10 cities with most serious pollution, seven are in China. Also, 700 Chinese cities are facing an increasing lack of water.
To cope with global warming, the “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” in 1992, required only the industrialized countries to lower the giving-off of greenhouse gases, with carbon dioxide in particular.
China made its contribution by closing down over 60,000 polluting factories and lowering sulfur dioxide’s proportion in the air in 98 cities to the set standard.
Loy thought highly of China’s efforts during his visit to the country in July, saying," I must say what China is doing (on ecological improvement) leaves a deep impression on me.”
Xia Qing, vice-president of China Environmental Science Research Institute, said that in addition to more investment, an overall ecological improvement also depends on citizens’ increasing awareness of environmental protection, and more related laws and regulations as a strong backup.
China has put in a total of 450 billion yuan in environmental projects since 1996, accounting for 1 percent of the GNP. The figure is expected to increase by a large margin in the next five years.