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UNEP chief hails "beautiful China" concept


10:56, December 15, 2012

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner (L) issues the certificate to Li Congjun, president of Xinhua News Agency, in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 14, 2012. The UNEP on Friday presented its first award of "Excellence and Leadership in Media and Environment" to Li Congjun, president of Xinhua News Agency. (Xinhua/Chen Jianli)

BEIJING, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Chinese leaders' determination to build a harmonious society and a "beautiful China" indicates the country's rethinking of the relationship between economy and environment, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) chief has said.

Instead of believing that the economy and environment are obstructing each other, China has realized that they are enabling each other, said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Friday.

His comments came shortly after the UNEP presented Xinhua News Agency's president with an award for Xinhua's work in promoting environmental issues.

Over the last 20 years, China has shown that it is able to arrest the trend of securing economic development at the expense of the environment, according to Steiner.

Chinese leaders, experts and citizens have recognized that environmental challenges have great significance, and for years the country has been working to address them and reverse the trend, he said.

A report to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) last month emphasized the importance of ecological progress and advocated the building of a "beautiful China" in the country's development plan.

The fact that China places ecological progress at the center in addressing its future direction and is beginning to build a pathway toward "beautiful China" reveal that the country will further develop its economy based on environmental sustainability and green improvement, not only in cities, but also in its less-developed western rural areas, Steiner said.

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