THE newest hurdle in the industrialisation of China is environmental protection and foreign businesses should cover themselves by leading the way, says a delegate from the environmental think-tank, Wheelabrator Asia-Pacific. Director of business development, Lansun Chang, said at the American Chamber of Commerce's 'China In Transition' seminar yesterday that environmental protection was a new topic for the China market. 'An industry that's coming in brings new pollution into China and the Chinese Government does not necessarily know how to regulate it.' She said that existing laws were unclear and intended for China's traditional industries. It is only now the government has begun to look at dealing with pollution created by imported technologies. 'They [foreign companies] should not get into a position where they can be fined heavily,' she said. She said foreign companies in joint ventures would usually be expected to pay for most clean-up operations. Officials are holding talks in Beijing this week to discuss the problem of sulphur content in the air, which is causing acid rain and boosting the incidence of lung cancer and bronchial pneumonia. Ms Chang said that because coal in southern China had a high sulphur content, it could be transported from northern provinces to alleviate pollution. She said the government was even considering controlling the type of coal that people burned in their homes. Noise pollution is not considered a problem yet. The government has promised to spend US$9.5 billion on environmental protection from 1991 to 1995 and this figure will grow to $23 billion by the next century. Ms Chang said most environmental work was being done by filtering water supplies, but there were waste disposal plants at Zhuhai and Shanghai and a further seven were being planned. 'Most [land waste plants] are initiated by local government,' she said, but some provinces were more concerned with profits than pollution control. Ms Chang said Chinese authorities deemed environmental control expensive. 'If the fine is so small and the cost for implementation is much greater, there is really no incentive to enforce the environmental issue.'