Report On the State of the Environment In China
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Environmental Management

Major Pollution Accidents in 2003

In 2003, 17 major pollution accidents happened across the country. Among them, 10 accidents caused deaths and poisoning, and 7 accidents were water pollution that caused social stability problems and significant economic loss. These 17 accidents led to 249 deaths (234 of which were caused by the blowout accident in Kai County of Chongqing on December 23) and more than 600 people being poisoned, and nearly 30,000 people were affected. 

Among the 17 accidents, 5 were caused by hydrogen sulphide poisoning, 3 were caused by liquid chlorine or chlorine leaking, 3 were caused by the leaking of acid materials, 3 were caused by pollution of oil-containing wastewater, 2 were caused by arsenic leaking, and 1 was caused by chemical plant explosion. Most accidents happened between April and September. 

Compared with the previous year, there was a significant increase in the number of major accidents, and in the number of deaths and people being poisoned. 

All pollution accidents were dealt with properly.

International Environmental Cooperation and Exchange

The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), supported by other Chinese agencies, completed 12 negotiations international environmental convention negotiations or other multilateral environmental negotiations. SEPA hosted the 5th Environment Ministers' Meeting for China, Japan, and Korea, and kicked off the Ministers' Dialogue Mechanism between China and EU on environmental policy. Frequent bilateral visits on environmental matters were conducted between China and Japan, Korea, Canada, France, Italy, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. SEPA and the US EPA signed the Memorandum between China and the US on Environmental Scientific Cooperation, which signaled a breakthrough of environmental cooperation between China and the US. China also actively participated in negotiations on WTO related trade and environment issues. The 2nd Meeting of the 3rd Phase of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development made policy recommendations to the Chinese Government on "building a well-off society and a sustainable new industrialization mode".

While promoting international cooperation in areas such as Montreal Multilateral Fund, China-Italy bilateral cooperation, and Global Environmental Facilities, China also made breakthroughs with international cooperation on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and biodiversity conservation and with cooperation with EU. In 2003, China introduced $42.5 million into China through international environmental cooperation, and reached cooperation agreements would introduce $160 million into China. Among this, $4.4 million was from GEF in support of the China National Implementation Plan for POPs, $11million was from the Italian Government contributed in support of China's capacity building in implementing international environmental conventions, $40.77 million was in support of the control of ozone depleting substances, and $21 million was from GEF in support of the Yangtze Flood Program and the Hai River Project. Also, for the first time, the Ministry of Finance of China earmarked a matching fund of RMB 8 million for international environmental cooperation.

China's efforts and achievement in environmental protection and sustainable development have been recognized by the United Nations and the international community. In 2003, the World Bank and the United Nations awarded "Special Award for Green Environment" and "UNEP Sasakawa Environmental Award" respectively to Mr. Xie Zhenhua, Minister of SEPA. On 19 November 2003, UN Secretary General Kofi Anan presented the "UNEP Sasakawa Environmental Award" to Minister Xie Zhenhua in New York. 

Environmental Laws and Regulations

On 28 June 2003, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress promulgated The Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Radiation Pollution. On 16 June 2003, the State Council promulgated The Regulations on the Management of Medical Wastes. In 2003, SEPA promulgated 5 administrative regulations: Regulations on the Management of Experts Inventory for Environmental Impact Assessment; Regulations on the Management of New Chemical Substances; Regulations on the Assessment of Specialized Environmental Impact Report; Regulations on Environmental Administrative Penalties (Revised Version); and Six Banning Orders for Environmental Agencies across the Country.

Pollution of the Fishery Environment

In 2003, there were 1,274 fishery pollution accidents across the country, causing a direct economic loss of more than RMB 710 million. Among these accidents, 80 were marine fishery pollution accidents, causing a direct economic loss of RMB 580 million; and 1194 were inland fishery pollution accidents, causing a direct economic loss of RMB 130 million.
At the same time, it was estimated that environmental pollution caused RMB 3.64 billion worth of natural fishery resource loss, among which RMB 2.74 billion was loss of marine fishery resources, and RMB 900 million was loss of inland fishery resources.

Progress Made in Cracking down Enterprises that Discharge Pollution Illegally

Between June and September, The State Environmental Protection Administration, the State Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Supervisions, the State Business Administration, the Ministry of Justice, and the National Bureau for the Supervision of Safe Production jointly launched a large-scale environmental campaign to crack down enterprises that discharged pollution illegally. 496,000 environmental law enforcement personnel/times participated in the campaign. 201,000 enterprises were inspected. 21,000 enterprises illegal cases were discovered. 7,339 enterprises were shut down. 2,079 enterprises were ordered to stop their production lines, and 1,094 enterprises were ordered to treat pollution within prescribed periods. Among these, the State Environmental Protection Administration handled more than 40 representative cases that violated environmental laws, and publicized the results of the investigations. A number of environmental problems with which the public were keenly concerned were solved, which contributed significantly to pollution control in the country.

Environmental Management for Construction Projects

According to statistics, in 2003, there were 281,137 new construction projects. Among them, 278,118 projects (98.9%) conducted environmental impact assessment. The environmental investment of these projects was RMB 290.636 billion, which was 5.6% of the total investment. The State Environmental Protection Administration examined 345 construction projects, of which 232 were industrial projects and 113 were ecological projects

In approving power plants constructions, the reduction of SO2 emissions was the main consideration. Coal fired power plants projects in the East, the Acid Rain Controlled Zones, and the SO2 Controlled Zones had to go through very strict examination before they can be approved.

In approving the construction of paper making plants, the control of the discharge of water pollutants was the main objective. Consideration was first given to the choice of raw materials. Projects that use straw pulp were strictly controlled, whereas projects that use wood pulp and bamboo pulp (which integrate forestation with paper making), and waste paper pulp were encouraged.
In 2003, 115,922 construction projects were completed and put into operation. Among them, 63,904 projects were required to abide by the "three simultaneities" rule. 61,648 projects (96.5%) met the requirement. The State Environmental Protection Administration approved 78 construction projects for their environmental performance. These projects combined added a daily wastewater treatment capacity of 597,700 tons, and an hourly waste gas treatment capacity of 446.9072 billion standard m3. Compared with the previous year, the discharge of COD was reduced by 205,038 tons/year, the discharge of petroleum was reduced by 119 tons/year, and the discharge of ammonia nitrogen was reduced by 1524 tons.

Building of "National Environmental Protection Model Cities" and "Beautiful Environmental Towns"

In 2003, according to the standards for "national environmental protection model cities", the State Environmental Protection Administration conducted surveys and inspections in Wujiang (Jiangsu Province), Nanjing (Jiangsu Province), Changshu (Jiangsu Province), Zhenjiang (Jiangsu Province), Dongying (Shandong Province), and Mianyang (Sichuan Province). Among them, Wujiang (Jiangsu Province), Dongying (Jiangsu Province), and Nanjing (Jiangsu Province) passed examinations and were awarded the tile of "National Environmental Protection Model Cities".

By the end of 2003, there had been a total of 33 National Environmental Protection Model Cities and 2 National Environmental Protection Model Urban Districts.

In 2003, the Sate Environmental Protection Administration awarded the title of "National Beautiful Environmental Towns" for the first time to 14 towns, among which was Xiaotangshan in Changping District of Beijing.

Management of Medical Wastes and Hospital Wastewater during the SARS Outbreak

The State Council formulated The Regulations on Medical Waste Management. According to these regulations, SEPA formulated the Implementation Rules for Administrative Penalty for the Violation of the Regulations on the Medical Waste Management jointly with other agencies. SEPA also compiled six related technical documents, one of which was Technical Guidelines for the Treatment of Hospital Wastewater, to guide various levels of environmental agencies to strengthen supervision and management on the generation, transportation and disposal of hospital wastewater and medical waste.

On April 22, 2003, SEPA promulgated Urgent Circular on Further Strengthening the Supervision and Management of Medical Wastewater and Medical Garbage, which requires various levels of environmental agencies to adopt urgent measures to ensure the safe disposal of medical wastewater and medical garbage. The Central Government appropriated RMB 150 million of contingent compensation fund to be used for the key cities to buy incineration equipment and transportation vehicles during the SARs outbreak. 

Water Sanitation and Latrine Improvement in Rural Areas

 In 2003, 11.84 million more rural people were provided with centralized drinking water supply, and 5.62 million sanitation toilets were newly built. Among the 943 million rural population in the country (not including Tibet), 92.71% (which was 1.04% higher than the previous year) were beneficiaries of the water sanitation improvement. The four forms of water supplies were:

  •  Tap water (centralized drinking water supply): There were 630,903 centralized water stations or water supply stations below the county level across the country, covering a population of 548.37 million people, which accounted for 58.2% of the rural population and was 1.54 percentage points higher than the previous year. In Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu, the proportion of rural population using tap water was 99.95%, 97.32%, 85.97%, 84.18%, and 80.24% respectively.

  • Manually operated motor-pumped wells: There had been 56.12 million manually operated motor-pumped wells in the rural areas, providing drinking water for 208.1 million rural people, or 22.08% of all rural population.
    · Collected rain water: There had been 1,760,607 water cellars built for rain water collection in 20 provinces. The stored water had been used to provide drinking water for 12.59 million people, or 1.34% of all rural population.

  • 147.9 million rural people, or 11.12% of all rural population, used drinking water provided in other forms.

By the end of 2003, 50.92% of the 248.79 million households had had sanitation toilets or latrines, which was 2.26% higher than the previous year.

Investment in the Control of Environmental Pollution

In 2003, China's total investment in the treatment of environmental pollution was RMB 162.723 billion, which was 19.4% more than the previous year. Among them, the investment in urban environmental infrastructure was RMB 107.2 billion, which was 35.9% more than the previous year; the investment in the treatment of industrial pollution sources was RMB 22.173 billion; the investment made in order to meet the "Three Simultaneities" requirement for new projects was RMB 33.35 billion, which was 14.4% less than the previous year. In 2003, the investment in the treatment of environmental pollution was 1.39% of China's GDP. 

Construction of Urban Infrastructure

By the end of 2003, China had had 660 cities with municipality status, with an urban population of 341.93 million, among which 233.74 million were non-agricultural population. The total urban area was 401,891 km2, among which 28,524 km2 were built area. The population density in cities was 851 people per km2.

By the end of 2003, there had been 889,225 hectares of green area in the urban built areas, which was a 15.1% increase over the previous year. The green coverage in the urban built areas increased from 29.8% of the previous year to 31.2%. The whole country had 222,740 hectares of public green area in cities, which was 33,914 hectares more than the previous year. On average, each urban resident had 6.51 m2 of green land, which was 1.15 m2 more than the previous year.

Newly added production capacity to cities included the following: 5.96 million m3/day of water supply capacity; 1.82 million m3/day of coal gas production capacity; 4.96 million m3 of natural gas storage capacity; 8,935 km of road in cities; 7.47 million m3/day of wastewater treatment capacity; and 47,038 tons/day of urban household garbage treatment capacity.

In 2003, the total water supply for cities was 48.4 billion m3, which was 3.8% more than the previous year. The water consumption by production and operations was 20.9 billion m3, which was 43.2% of total water supply and was approximately the same as the previous year. The water consumption by public services was 6.8 billion m3, which was 14% of total water supply. The water consumption by households was 16.4 billion m3, which was 33.9% of the total water supply as opposed to the 32.3% of 2002. The urban population for water consumption was 295.12 million. The water use popularization rate in cities was 86.3%, which was 9 percentage points higher than the previous year. The amount of per capita water use for living purposes was 215 liters, which was 2 liters more than the previous year. In 2003, the cities saved 3.5 billion m3 of water. The recycled or reused water by industries was 45.9 billion m3. 

In 2003, the total supply of artificial coal gas was 20.3 billion m3, which was 400 million m3 more than the previous year. The total supply of natural gas was 14.2 billion m3, which was 1.6 billion m3 more than the previous year. The total supply of liquefied gas was 11.34 million tons, which was 20,000 tons less than the previous year. The total urban population using gas was 263.05 million; and the proportion of the population using gas was 76.93%, which was 10 percentage points higher than the previous year. 

By the end of 2003, the capacity for steam heat supply had been 92,590 tons per hour, and the capacity for water heat supply was 171,483 mega watts. The area of centralized heating supply was 1.88956 billion m3, which was 21.5% higher than the previous year.

The Effects of the Grazing Ban in Hebei Province

By the end of 2003, Hebei Province had banned grazing on nearly 30 million mu of grassland, which was about 50% of the province’s usable land. In 2003, the Provincial Government of Hebei issued The Regulations on the Grazing Ban and on Animal Pens and Forage. The Grassland Responsibility System was implemented in all the sand source areas of Beijing and Tianjin. Through comprehensive grazing ban, the natural grassland was able to be rested and restored. According to monitoring, the average natural grassland vegetation coverage had increased from 35% before the grazing ban to 60-75% after the grazing ban, the height of the grass had increased from 15 cm before the ban to approximately 30 cm after the ban, the grass productivity had increased by 25-45 kg per mu, and the land surface runoff had decreased by 40%. In the sand source areas of Beijing and Tianjin, the vegetation coverage had increased from 45% before the ban to 85% after the ban, the average grass production had reached 100-150 kg/mu for the improved grassland, and 280-500 kg/mu for artificial grassland.

Certification of Organic Food Production Bases

In 2003, SEPA promulgated The Regulations on the Inspection and Management of National Organic Food Production Bases (Experimental). The building of organic food Bases was promoted. By the end of 2003, SEPA had certified 10 national organic food production bases.

The Prevention and Control of Endemic Diseases

By the end of 2003, among the 433 counties where schistosomiasis was prevalent, 260 counties had met the standards for blocking the transmission paths of schitosomiasis, and 63 counties had met the standards for controlling the spread of schistosomiasis. The area affected by oncomelania had decreased by 74%, and the population that contracted schistosomiasis decreased by 93%, as compared to the early years since PRC was established. 

In 2003, the reported number of malaria cases was 40,681, among which 4,727 were pernicious malaria cases. There were 129,100 suspected malaria cases. 589 echinococcosis cases were reported during the year. 

In 2003, 325 counties were affected by Keshan disease. The disease was controlled effectively in 256 counties, and 41,000 Keshan disease patients were still to be recovered. 354 counties were affected by Kaschin-Beck disease. The disease was controlled in 186 counties, and 810,000 patients were to be recovered. Iodine deficiency was monitored in 2808 counties. Iodine deficiency related diseases had been eliminated or almost eliminated in 2,319 counties. There had been 498,000 goitre II patients and 1.29 million cretinism patients. 1,109 counties were affected by endemic fluorine toxicosis (caused by drinking water). It was controlled in 193 counties, and 1.31 million patients were to be recovered. 200 counties were affected by endemic fluorine toxicosis (caused by pollution from coal burning). It was controlled in 25 counties, and the 1.52 million people were to be recovered. 32 counties were affected arsenic toxicosis (caused by water or pollution from coal burning). There were 370,000 people and 9,700 arsenic toxicosis patients in the affected villages.

Environmental Standards, Rules and Technical Requirements

2003 saw the promulgation or revision of 9 national environmental standards, including Air Pollutant Emission Standards for Power Plants; 13 national environmental standards regarding specific substances, including The Elimination of Chemical Weapons - Cyanogen Bromide Methylbenzene - That Had Been Left Over by the Japanese Army in China; and 62 sectoral environmental standards, including A Guide to Environmental Impact Assessment for Water Conservancy Projects.

5 environmental technology standards for products were also promulgated. 

Also promulgated were: Technology Policies for the Prevention and Control of Motorcycle Emissions, Technology Policies for the Prevention and Control of Diesel Engine Emissions, and Technology Policies for the Prevention and Control of Pollution by Used Batteries. 

Freshwater Environment

Marine Environment

Atmospheric Environment

Acoustic Environment

Solid Wastes

Radioactive Environment

Arable Land / Land Resources



Climate and Natural Disasters

Environmental Management