President warns rich provinces to think green

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2007, 12:00am

President and Communist Party general secretary Hu Jintao yesterday hammered home his outlook for the country's economic growth in the next five years with a warning to rich provinces not to sacrifice the environment and natural resources for development.

Addressing party congress delegates from Jiangsu province, Mr Hu said China could no longer afford a consume-first strategy in economic growth.

'[We] can't drive the economic growth by increasing investment, consuming natural resources or excessively occupying farm land. [We] can't take the old path again,' Mr Hu said.

'[We] are now putting emphasis on adjusting our economic growth pattern [so that we] can achieve development that is both solid and fast-paced,' Mr Hu said. '[And this] will have special significance for our economically developed provinces.'

Jiangsu is one of the fastest growing provinces.

Mr Hu said the government had changed its slogan from 'rapid and sound development' to 'sound and rapid development' to underscore its shift of focus to quality and efficiency.

He said China wanted to boost production and raise people's living standards but at the same time keep the environment clean and healthy.

In his political report to the congress on Monday, Mr Hu admitted the country had paid a high price in achieving rapid economic growth in two decades of reform but said the leadership would now steer the country in a different direction which emphasised energy efficiency and protecting the environment.

He said that instead of relying on investment and exports, China would aim for a co-ordinated growth strategy combining domestic consumption, investment and exports so that the nation would quadruple 2000 per capita gross domestic product in two decades.

He vowed to increase spending on energy and environmental conservation and promised sweeping changes for the environment, saying it would 'improve notably'.

A report released last month by the State Environmental Protection Administration said China's overall environmental situation remained 'serious'.

Last year, 842 pollution accidents were reported, including 482 water pollution cases, 232 air pollution cases, and 45 cases caused by solid waste. The country's discharges of sulfur dioxide rose 1.5 per cent last year to 25.89 million tonnes, the report said.