Almost all Chinese cities monitored for pollution in 2013 failed to meet state standards, the vice-minister of environmental protection said on Saturday as he outlined the country’s plans to redress the environmental consequences of rapid industrialization.
The only cities inspected that met standards were Haiko, the Tibetan capital Lhasa, and the resort city of Zhoushan. Of China’s 1.35 billion people, a miniscule 3.7 million live in those cities combined. The cities not meeting standards have been struggling to cope with problems like urban smog, polluted water supplies and industrial contamination of land, causing increasing public concern in China and abroad.
“When we were chasing GDP growth, we were also paying the price of pollution, and this price is heavy, is massive,” Wu Xiaogquig, vice-minister of environmental protection told reporters.
Premier Li Keqiang said in his report to parliament on Wednesday that the country would “declare war on pollution” in the same way it declared war on poverty, but critics say stronger rhetoric might not be enough without deeper legal and institutional reform for China.
The pollution action plan in China has primarily focused on industrial heavy areas like Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin along with commercial and manufacturing centers around Shanghai and Guangdong, where heavy industrial capacity and coal consumption will be decreased.