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World Bank Report: Chinese Environmental Problems Getting Worse

A new report by scientific experts says China's environmental problems are getting worse even though the government has invested hard work and lots of money into cleaning the air and water. The World Bank report says Beijing must spend more money and spend it more wisely to cope with environmental problems that are growing more complex.

The 150 page report says China's water pollution is getting worse, natural forests are declining, the land is eroding, and grasslands are turning into desert.

The experts say new problems are emerging from China's race toward economic development. More wealth means more cars and more air pollution, and runoff from large livestock farms carries filth into the water.

The World Bank Vice President for East Asia, Jemal Kassum said China's government is well aware of its environmental problems and has been working to solve them. Mr. Kassum says Beijing deserves credit for massive programs to plant trees and successful efforts to cut industrial air and water pollution. "There is no room for complacency," he said. "The battle is not yet won, in fact it's hardly even started. The more progress that is made, the more complex are the residual problems that have to be dealt with."

Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, Xie Zhenhua, called the environmental situation in China "quite stern." He said other societies have gone through terrible environmental problems and solved them. He implied that China can do the same, eventually.

Mr. Xie said these environmental problems happened in developed countries 100 years ago and were dealt with in stages. But China's roaring pace of economic development means many of those steps are all happening at the same time here.

The report was produced with the cooperation of China's government and officials say some of its recommendations have already been adopted.

The report says the government should spend more time and money on planning environmental projects and training environmental experts and put less emphasis on buying equipment and building facilities.

It also says government ministries in charge of other areas, such as finance, agriculture, and construction, need to incorporate environmental concerns into their planning. The report's authors say time and money spent to protect environment is a bargain compared with the huge task of cleaning up a ruined landscape later.