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Friday, May 18, 2001, updated at 14:02(GMT+8)

Mission to Curb Damage to West

Fact-finding tours have been organized to look into curbing environmental damage in China's less-developed western regions over the next five years.

Members of China's top political advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), will carry out inspections of poverty-stricken regions and conduct surveys into the local ecological situations, town developments, education and cultural heritage.

The economy of China's western regions has been put on the top of the agenda for the next five years.

Starting on Monday, the CPPCC tour will also investigate taxes and charges imposed on rural residents, State-owned restructuring and various other issues.

Fact-finding tours are a major part of the annual work of the CPPCC. Findings can help central authorities in policy making and the way they decide to operate.

"Inspections of the western regions come up with suggestions and advice, which helps people gain an economic well-being while keeping the environment protected," said a spokesman from the CPPCC Thursday at a news briefing in Beijing.

Concerns are running high in China about environmental problems which could result from the country's emphasis on advancing the regional economy. Experts fear the urgent need to develop the economy could sideline efforts to protect the environment.

Western China, which is made up of 11 provinces, autonomous regions and the Chongqing Municipality, boasts the largest number of species of plants and animals in China.

At the same time, the CPPCC is busy carrying out research and studying issues of most concern to Chinese people in response to a number of public complaints.

Highlights include how to increase the minimum basic living allowance for unemployed urban residents, how to improve food standards and social security, narrow the income gap between coastal and inland regions, sort out energy problems and implement education reforms.

"We are taking the interests of the public as our central agenda and making sure people's voices are heard by the government, thus bringing about more solutions to benefit the lives of the people in China and to help maintain social stability," said the spokesman.

Members of the Ninth National Committee of the CPPCC put forward a record 3,733 proposals in 2000. The proposals included the development of China' western regions ecological and environmental protection, industrial restructuring and a crackdown on corruption.

By February, 97.9 per cent of the proposals had been handled by the authorities, making the CPPCC an active player in China's economic advances and social progress.

Source: China Daily

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Fact-finding tours have been organized to look into curbing environmental damage in China's less-developed western regions over the next five years.

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