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Government officials and environmental experts from the three biggest economies of the region have urged greater cooperation to boost sustainable development.
A two day environment summit was held on Saturday and Sunday in Xianghe, a Chinese province an hour away from Beijing.
Wang Chunzheng, vice chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said that China, Japan and South Korea share “common benefits as well as common responsibilities in joint air pollution control”.
Gross domestic product (GDP) of the three nations totalled $15 trillion last year, accounting for around 20 per cent of the world’s total and 70 per cent of Asia’s total.
Wang pointed out that since Japan and South Korea boast of advanced technologies and experience in energy saving, environmental protection and air pollution treatment, the three nations have “great potential for cooperation in the environmental protection industry”.
Japanese Ambassador to China, Masato Kitera, said at the Summit that climate change is “shaking the foundations of human life”.
Kitera also reiterated that pollution is a common challenge to East Asia and that cooperation between China, Japan and the ROK is essential.
China, Japan and South Korea are also in the midst of intensive rounds of talks for a trilateral free trade agreement (FTA) that would bring together a market of more that 1.5 billion people and could also aim to defuse political mistrust in the region arising from territorial spats.
Cheong Young Rok, minister of economic affairs at the South Korean embassy in Beijing, suggested that the three nations need to jointly build a “smog mitigation mechanism”.
Smog and haze resulting from pollution has choked Chinese citizens over the past few weeks. Local governments in eight Chinese cities received fines of $8.9 million for failing to check the rising smog last week.
Decades of breakneck economic growth, the coal-dominated energy mix and lax environmental law enforcement has poisoned much of the country’s air, water and soil.
Air quality of the nation’s cities is of increasing concern to the new Chinese leadership as they stress on “sustainable growth”.
The Chinese cabinet released an action plan for air pollution treatment in September, requiring heavily polluted regions to take measures to improve air quality by 2017.
TBP and Agencies