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Conditions in China

2002-7-4

This is the VOA SpecialEnglish ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

Environmental officials in Chinasay the government has taken steps to reduce pollution in thecountry. However, they say there are still serious environmentalproblems. The country is dealing with water and air pollution, landdestruction and technological waste.

The State Environmental Protection Administration has releasedits yearly report about the condition of China's environment. Thereport says the government will invest abouteighty-five-thousand-million dollars in a clean-up campaign duringthe next ten years.

Zhu Guangyao is vice minister of China's environmental protectionagency. He says water pollution is one of the most serious problems.Mister Zhu says all seven of the country's major river systems andseveral major lakes are polluted with poisonous chemicals and otherwaste. Rivers near cities are the most severely affected.

Mister Zhu says acid rain containing harmful sulfur dioxide fallsover ninety percent of the cities in southern and eastern China.Acid rain is caused by industrial pollution. It affects one-third ofthe country.

The report says two-thirds of Chinese cities have unacceptablelevels of air pollution. Mister Zhu notes that some cities, such asBeijing, have improved their air. He says this improvement is partlya result of the city reducing its dependence on burning coal forenergy. Beijing is getting more of its energy from natural gas andwater power.

Mister Zhu says China is also fighting land destruction, which isruining two-million hectares of grassland a year. He says ninetypercent of China's natural grasslands have been damaged.One-hundred-thirty-five hectares of land have become desert areas.

Mister Zhu says a lack of water and strong winds are the mainreasons why these areas have become deserts. But he says theactivities of people make the problem much worse. These includecutting down too many trees, having too many animals eating grassesand wasting water.

China is also dealing with a new environmental threat fromillegal imports of old computers and other technological waste.Officials say such waste releases dangerous chemicals into the airand water. Environmental officials say China is taking steps to stopthese illegal imports which they say come mostly from the UnitedStates.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written byCynthia Kirk.