Vice-premier vows energy efficiency will help growth

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, 12:00am

Zeng Peiyan says emphasis will be placed on conserving fuel

The mainland plans to increase its energy efficiency to help fuel the country's economic growth in the next 15 years, Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan said yesterday.

'In the last two decades of the 20th century, China quadrupled its gross domestic product and doubled its energy consumption,' he said in a keynote speech to a Fortune Global Forum session held in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.

The mainland was planning similar GDP growth in the first two decades of the new century, he said, but with a smaller increase in energy consumption.

Mr Zeng said other key challenges to be met in the pursuit of sustainable growth were to be found in agriculture, environmental protection, innovation and market reform. He said the mainland was aiming to be mainly self-sufficient when it came to meeting its future energy needs.

Some foreign governments and international organisations have attributed steep increases in the price of crude oil to increased demand from the mainland to fuel its rapid economic growth.

Beijing would pursue an energy policy emphasising both energy development and conservation, Mr Zeng said, but priority would be given to conservation.

The nation would work on changing the makeup of its energy industries, introduce strict controls on the development of industries that consumed a lot of energy and actively promote energy-efficient housing and fuel-efficient vehicles.

Mr Zeng said the central government would also support the development and application of clean coal technologies, accelerate hydroelectric, nuclear and gas power projects and other clean energy programmes, and move to develop renewable energy projects.

It would also actively promote international co-operation in the energy industry.

The vice-premier said that to achieve sustainable economic growth, the government would need to strengthen its efforts to raise peasant incomes. Beijing would build up the country's agricultural base and intensify environmental protection in the interests of well-co-ordinated and sustainable development.

Mr Zeng vowed to spend more on environmental protection, while working to encourage private participation in environmental projects. To protect the environment, the government would encourage clean production and impose strict controls on the discharge of major pollutants, the vice-premier said.

Beijing would also work to enforce protection of intellectual property rights and make further advances in market-oriented economic reform.

Rapid economic globalisation made international co-operation more important than ever, Mr Zeng said, calling for further liberalisation of trade, opening up of markets, the removal of restrictions on commodity imports and hi-tech exports and the proper handling of trade disputes.