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Wednesday, June 06, 2001, updated at 09:36(GMT+8)

China's Environmental Situation Still Grave: Official

China's Environmental Situation Still Grave: Official
China's environmental situation remains serious although progress has been made in pollution control, a senior official said Tuesday.

"The situation in terms of the environment we face is still serious," said Xie Zhenhua, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), at a press conference held by the Information Office under the State Council.

"The absolute amount of main pollutants remains huge and the trend of ecological degradation has not yet been brought under effective control," said Xie.

The government attached great importance to environmental protection during the Ninth Five-Year Plan period (1996-2000), and the public awareness of environmental protection was greatly raised. "But it's still far from what we target at," he said.

In the next five years, the government will strengthen law enforcement and apply high technology in the sector, while increasing investment and adopting more favorable economic policies, according to Xie.

Total investment in environmental protection is expected to reach 600-700 billion yuan for the 2001-2005 period.

"The goal is to reduce the amount of pollutants by another 10 percent from the level of year 2000 while keeping a GDP growth rate of about seven percent," the SEPA chief said.

Statistics show that in 2000, China reduced the discharge amount of 12 major pollutants by 15 percent from 1995. Some 97.7 percent of the 230,000 enterprises that produce industrial waste reached the national standards for environmental protection.

Next, priority will be given to efforts for environmental protection in the vast rural area. The government will take a series of measures to enhance the environmental protection awareness of the farmers, and accelerate infrastructure construction in the countryside.

The government will also improve the transparency in disclosing information about the environment, and will open a hotline for public report and supervision.

On Beijing's bid for hosting the 2008 Olympic Games, Xie commented that Beijing has been making improvements in pollution control. According to a 10-year plan, the city government will invest 122 billion U.S. dollars in environmental protection before 2008.

Xie expressed his belief that if Beijing continues to increase investment in environmental protection and management, it will meet the requirements of the International Olympic Committee for the environment by year 2008.

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China's environmental situation remains serious although progress has been made in pollution control, a senior official said Tuesday.

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