Chinese and U.S. officials are working together to find ways to combat environmental problems. Jamila Trindle reports from Beijing, where the two countries held their first joint workshop on environmental cooperation.
The meeting Tuesday brought together officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.
Chinese Vice Minister Liu Yanhua says environmental protection is more important than ever in China, which has some of the most polluted cities in the world.
Liu says China has made environmental protection one of its top goals.
Topics for the two-day workshop include information about new green technologies and protecting drinking water supplies.
EPA Assistant Administrator George Gray says for China to assess its situation accurately it needs to develop good indicators of environmental health - by improving the measurements it uses and the way the information is analyzed.
"They're also important for communicating, to tell your ministers, being able to tell the journalists, being able to tell the public when progress is being made," Gray said.
China's rapid economic growth, outdated power generation equipment and poor regulatory system have contributed to a massive pollution problem. Each year, tens of thousands of people suffer from illnesses linked to pollution, such as respiratory infections and exposure to tainted water. The government has acknowledged that the majority of the country's water supply is badly polluted.
Outside criticism of environmental pollution in China has increased, in part because air pollutants from China are found as far away as Japan and the West Coast of the United States. Worldwide concerns about Beijing's air quality are rising, especially because of the coming Summer Olympics. At least one top-ranked runner has decided to skip the games because of the city's often choking air.