Environment the hot topic at NPC 2006

Zhou Shengxian, head of SEPA, has been popping up all over the media landscape after making a statement to the 10th session of the National People’s Congress about the need for more concentration on environmental issues.

The latest from Reuters via Planet Ark (link):

“Scientific approach to development” might seem like at empty slogan, but China’s environment chief thinks it’s the tool he needs to tackle the country’s pollution woes.

“It has equipped me with a very powerful weapon. If I use this weapon properly I will not end up resigning,” said Zhou, who heads the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

More than two decades of 9.5 percent annual growth have come at the cost of pollution so severe it has become a cause of riots, health problems and made China home to 20 of the world’s 30 most smog-choked cities.

But in what has become a theme of the 10-day session of China’s annual rubber-stamp parliament, when nearly 3,000 delegates meet to discuss and improve Communist Party policies, Zhou said the growth at any cost approach was changing.

“Under some conditions, development is like combustion,” Zhou warned. “What’s burned away are resources, what’s leftover is pollution, and what’s produced in that process is GDP.”

This follows AP coverage of Zhou’s recent remarks to the NPC via the Seattle Post Intelligencer (link):

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Environmental protection took on new urgency for Chinese leaders after a Nov. 13 chemical spill in a northeastern river forced a city to shut down its water supply, and sent pollutants flowing into Russia.

Zhou’s agency said in a report that its goals for this year include better prevention and control of pollution in major rivers, stricter environmental law enforcement and increased supervision of nuclear and radiation safety.

The agency also will develop an environmental law enforcement team, it said.

Finally, the Chinese Press appear to be jumping on Zhou’s bandwagon, with Xinhua running an article on farmers’ support for an “environment-friendly countryside” and People’s Daily quoting an NPC delegate as calling for the writing of a “right to environmental information” into the Chinese constitution.


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