China must focus on environmental protection as its growing population and rapid urbanization threaten an already precarious ecological balance, Premier Zhu Rongji warns
Speaking to environmental planners, Premier Zhu Rongji said that China's environmental outlook was not optimistic, state media reported today.
Zhu said that a 360 billion yuan ($43.5 billion U.S.) environmental protection program between 1996 and 2000 had tentatively contained the continuing trend of ecological and environmental degradation.
But environmental pollution in some areas was going from bad to worse, the People's Daily quoted the Chinese premier as saying.
Zhu stressed that all levels of government need to play a major role in environmental protection. Environmental authorities had to lift their performance and not be lax in their enforcement, he added.
Though he did not outlay the government's planned expenditure for China's 10th five-year environmental protection plan (2001-2005), Zhu did say that waste management, and greener construction and infrastructure projects were key to curbing a worsening problem.
Also targeted was reducing or restricting the practice of selling old and polluting industrial equipment to China's poorer regions, as well as improving the quality of drinking water in rural and urban areas.
Zhu also called on "China's people" to become involved in an afforestation program to make the country "more greener and beautiful," the People's Daily reported.