China links pollution strides to economic progress

Updated 2017-10-24 10:01:57 CGTN
Li Ganjie, Minister of Environmental Protection, speaks at a news conference, Oct. 23, 2017.

Li Ganjie, Minister of Environmental Protection, speaks at a news conference, Oct. 23, 2017.

Measures to fight pollution in China have made transformational and systemic progress, Minister of Environmental Protection Li Ganjie said on Monday.

Li made the remarks at a news conference on the sidelines of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).[Special coverage]

He drew attention to past experiences that show a positive correlation between environmental protection and economic development.

He noted China's unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level in recent years, citing this as evidence that the policies on the environment have had no negative overall effect on jobs.

"We have emphasized on both the immediate result and the long-term effect, while taking the right approach on moving forward the campaign of environmental protection," Li said.

The minister also reiterated his opposition to the one-size-fits-all approach.

On one hand, China has adopted zero-tolerance attitude towards companies that have violated laws and regulations, and on the other hand, it has taken a classified guidance approach for different industries and handled relevant issues on a case-by-case basis, he said.

List of achievements

Decades of growth have left the country with problems such as smog and contaminated soil, but Li said there had been historic progress in environmental protection since the 18th CPC National Congress as the country pursues a green development strategy. Here are some examples given by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP).

• The average PM2.5 pollution measurement concentration in the key Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze Delta and the Pearl River Delta has been brought down by over 30 percent since 2013.

• The ratio of acid rain areas to the total national land has dropped from a record high of 30 percent to 7.2 percent.

• In general, water quality for mainstreams of major waters and lakes has steadily improved.

• Forest coverage rate is up to 22 percent from 16.6 percent in the century.

• Around 2,750 nature reserves cover 14.9 percent of the national land, surpassing the global average.

• Coal-fired boilers with an installed capacity of 570 million kilowatts have been upgraded.

• More than 18 million yellow-labeled vehicles (gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles that fail to meet the national emission standards) and old vehicles have been phased out.

• Comprehensive environmental improvement projects have been carried out in more than 11,000 villages, benefiting 190 million villagers.

• The Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reform has approved over 40 specific reform plans for environmental protection.

• A number of important laws have been promulgated and amended, including Environmental Protection Law, Law on Air Pollution Prevention and Control, Law on Water Pollution Prevention and Control, Law on Environmental Impact Assessment, Law on Environmental Protection Tax, and Law on Nuclear Safety. The Law on Soil Pollution Prevention and Control has been submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for deliberation.

Officials punished

Environmental inspection is a major reform measure initiated and promoted by General Secretary Xi Jinping, said Li, noting that the four rounds of inspections have taken place in 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions.

So far, nearly 15,000 officials have been disciplined, according to figures released by the ministry.

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