China’s leadership has repeatedly promised all-out efforts to conserve resources and curb pollution.
The key report at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) last November put promoting ecological progress as a long-term task of vital importance to the people’s wellbeing and China’s future.
At a study session with members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in late May, President Xi Jinping also pledged that China will not sacrifice the environment for temporary economic growth.
The State Council’s latest policies of reducing air pollution can be regarded as an implementation of the principles.
They also showed that the government has a clear understanding of the nature of environmental issues in China.
As the State Council statement said on Friday, reducing air pollution is about people’s welfare and the country’s economic future.
On one hand, smog is visible and affects the life of everyone, rich and poor. It has proven that environmental crises can stir controversy and greatly undermine social stability.
On the other hand, it is closely related to transforming the economic growth pattern and promoting urbanization, the two most important issues in government work.
The country’s biggest environmental issues are linked to its fast but extensive economic development.
There will be one answer to two questions if the country finds the way to realize an eco-friendly and sustainable growth.
Friday’s policies are largely about restraining energy-consuming and polluting industries, transforming energy structure and harsher punishment on polluters. But it also included efforts to enhance legislation, transparency of environmental information, government efficiency and coordination of governments at different levels.
These are as important as direct environmental policies, if not more important.
According to the State Council, provincial governments will be assessed on their performance in reducing air pollution, and smog will be considered a public emergency to which local governments have to respond.
Environmental issues need comprehensive efforts from all sectors, particularly local governments. Their initiative is the vital for implementing the policies and supervising enterprises. Friday’s policies urged them to act.
Everyone breathing should act, said the State Council, which just hit the point of all environmental issues in China.