Something's Always Happening at the Zhu
Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji launched the country’s first five-year environmental plan earlier this week, acknowledging the need to balance economic development with environmental concerns. In a speech to China’s parliament, Zhu drew attention to forest preservation, desertification, and water shortages. About 400 of China’s 668 cities suffer water shortages, and some 700 million of China’s 1.3 billion residents drink contaminated water. The five-year plan calls for Chinese industries to have systems in place to recycle 60 percent of the water they use by 2005. It also sets a target of reducing sulfur dioxide emissions by 20 percent in some major cities. Environmentalists predicted the ambitious targets couldn’t be met without basic structural and ideological changes in Chinese society.