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Environmentalists Say China's Pollution Has Increased This Year

China's leading environmental watchdog says China's relentless effort to raise its gross domestic product has led to increased pollution in the first half of this year.

China's State Environment Protection Administration, or SEPA, says the amount of pollution discharged into the country's air, rivers and lakes has increased in the first half of this year.

SEPA says China produced 12 billion tons of industrial wastewater in the first six months of this year. This was up 2.4 percent from the same period last year.

A major index of water pollution, known as chemical oxygen demand, increased by 3.7 percent. And emissions of sulfur dioxide, a gas emission caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels, went up more than 4 percent.

The environmental agency says there is a direct link between the growing volume of pollution and the country's booming economy. China's gross domestic product grew by almost 11 percent in the first six months of this year.

Lo Sze-ping, an activist with Greenpeace China in Beijing, agrees.

"With the current mode of development in China, which is quite low on energy efficiency, is quite high on pollution emission and is quite high on raw material and national resources input, this particular way of what the government calls extensive mode of development is bound to have a huge environmental footprint compared to other countries in terms of environmental impact per G.D.P. unit growth," Lo said.

SEPA criticized local governments for what it calls their half-hearted attempts to deal with pollution.

Greenpeace's Lo says local governments lack the political will to enforce environmental standards, particularly because they often are evaluated by how well the economy in their area grows.

But Lo says there are signs China is trying to address its environmental problems. He says only two years ago, for example, SEPA would not have been able to publish its critical assessment.