Business / Green China

Transitioning China needs tougher environmental law

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-04-25 10:38

BEIJING -- Revisions to the Environmental Protection Law adopted by senior Chinese legislators could not have come at a better time.

The Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC) on Thursday approved the most sweeping revisions

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to the law in 25 years, promising tougher penalties for polluters.

After two years of heated debate, the much-anticipated revision expanded the law to 70 articles from 47 in the previous version, enshrined environmental protection as the government's overriding priority, and included specific articles and provisions on tackling smog.

For a country mired in pollution amid mounting public anger over a deteriorating environment, strict implementation of the new law is more relevant than ever.

Before this week's NPC Standing Committee session, China's Environmental Protection Law had not been revised since it took effect in 1989.

Decades of rapid economic growth have taken their toll on the country's ecology, while disturbingly lenient penalties have indulged excessive environmental pollution.

A report issued in April showed that nearly 60 percent of monitored areas in China had "very poor" or "relatively poor" underground water quality last year.

Another report issued jointly by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land and Resources on April 17 showed that about 16.1 percent of the country's soil is polluted.

Heavy smog that has frequently shrouded Beijing, Shanghai and other major Chinese cities is a more obvious cause for concern. And on April 11, more than 2.4 million people in Lanzhou of northwest China's Gansu Province, were affected by tap water that contained excessive levels of benzene.

The madness has to stop.

Pollution has been on the top of the Chinese government's agenda for years, but problems have persisted.

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