Chinese experts call for attention to "city illnesses"

09:32, April 20, 2011      

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Chinese experts said Tuesday that China's rapid urbanization and economic growth have caused serious "city illnesses", such as water shortages, environmental pollution and traffic jams.

"City illnesses" have greatly reduced people's quality of life and feelings of happiness, Li Bo, director of the Chinese environmental group Friends of Nature (FON), said.

The group released the Annual Report on the Environment Development of China (2011) Tuesday.

Speaking at a press briefing, Li said he expected that China's urbanization rate will reach nearly 80 percent in 30 to 40 years and the government should create a comprehensive action plan and take concrete measures to address the issue.

"Cities will be the main consumers of energy in the future. They will become a major battlefield for the country's environmental policy-making and play a leading role in creating a low-carbon economy," he said.

Citing Beijing's booming skiing industry using artificial snow, he called for all people to take part in the country's efforts toward developing a green economy and combating energy waste, especially lavish water consumption in cities.

"All these require society to work as a whole to explore practical, feasible means to achieve these goals. In the process, the government should take the lead, such as making its information more accessible, introducing public supervision and creating channels to hear public opinions," he added.

Li Dun, a professor with the Research Center on Contemporary China at Qinghua University, echoed these views, saying that although China achieved a 10.3-percent GDP growth in 2010, it also underwent a number of harrowing disasters that caused great damage to the environment.

"There were both natural and man-made disasters, but most man-made disasters were caused by enterprises. Chinese enterprises should take more social responsibilities," he said.

He said that accelerating urbanization increased the population of cities and made them vulnerable to disasters, citing China's leading gold producer, Zijin Mining Co., whose wastewater leakages killed large numbers of fish in a local river in Fujian province in July 2010.

In the country's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for National Economic and Social Development, China has vowed to develop strategic growth industries, including energy conservation and environmentally friendly and other new energy industries through favorable policy-making, finance and taxation support to promote sustainable development.

Source: Xinhua
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