The State-run news agency, Xinhua, made the announcement on 12 December, with Director of the State Environmental Protection Administration Xie Zhenhua quoted as saying China would fund 1,200 key environmental projects during the period from 2001 to 2005. The plans include reducing emissions, improving environmental quality and reining in ecological deterioration. The report comes soon after it was announced that the capital, Beijing, is to invest heavily in renewables (see related story).

Two decades of rapid economic growth have had negative impacts on China’s environment. Eight of the world’s 10 most polluted cities are located there, and acid rain falls on a third of the nation, although China has spent around 346 billion yuan ($42 billion) on environmental protection during the last five years, accounting for 0.93% of gross domestic product, the agency said.

In the same week, the German government announced that Germany and China are to strengthen their co-operation in the field of environmental protection. In the coming years the two governments will co-operate with industry to hold environmental protection conferences on topics such as waste management and

energy policy.

The Sino-German Environment Conference in Beijing, which ended on 14 December, was the largest in the history of German-Chinese

relations, with about 1100 delegates from both governments, business and

scientific communities and non-governmental organisations. Germany pledged to further increase the 1.6 billion DM ($700 million) of investment in environmental and energy projects currently being spent in the country.

At the conference German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul pledged DM 30 million ($13.5 million) in funding for the promotion of solar energy in China. The Germans also offered support in developing regulatory and

market-economic instruments for environmental protection. A total of

56 German and 350 Chinese companies met at a business contact forum

held parallel to the environmental conference.

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