China says slowing economy won't stop anti-pollution efforts

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BEIJING (AP) — China's environment minister said Friday that the country will not go back to its era of pursuing economic growth at the expense of the environment despite its slowing economy.

Chen Jining said China would continue to restructure its economy away from heavily polluting companies to create more room for "good companies" to develop and focus on developing technology, for example. He spoke at a news conference during an annual meeting of the country's legislature.

Chen pointed, however, to the need to reign in local governments, some of whom are still unwilling to enforce environmental laws in hopes of boosting economic growth in their areas.

Last year, China's economic growth slowed to a 25-year low of 6.9 percent. This year, authorities have set a growth target of 6.5 to 7 percent.

For decades, China pursued economic growth with little care of the damage to the country's environment. In recent years, the Chinese government has changed tack as it tries to move away from an economy dependent on heavy industry to a more sustainable one based on domestic consumption and services.

At the same time, China's increasingly wealthy citizens have become more concerned with the consequences of environmental pollution.