China's Cabinet says pollution situation still serious

Buildings are seen on a hazy day in Beijing January 26, 2010. Beijing's Mayor Guo Jinlong said on Monday that the Chinese capital faces an "extremely serious" pollution problem, unveiling a target for "blue sky days" below the number achieved for all of 2009. REUTERS/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) - China still faces a serious threat from pollution despite recent government efforts to clean up, the Cabinet said on Wednesday, adding the country would step up investment in environmentally friendly industries.

While noting some progress at closing outdated factories, cleaning up dirty rivers and increasing access to clean drinking water, the State Council, or Cabinet, warned against any resting on laurels during a regular meeting.

“Though our country’s environmental protection work has achieved positive results, generally the pollution of the environment has yet to be controlled,” according to a statement posted on the government’s website ( about the meeting, chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao.

“Supervision and management abilities over the environment remain lagging, and the situation is still severe,” it added.

We must “increase investment in and forcefully develop environmentally-friendly industries, as well as strengthen the ability to protect the environment,” the statement said.

“Spare no effort in promoting efforts to fight pollution and cut emissions ... vigorously reduce air pollution and emissions from the thermal power generation, steel, nonferrous and cement industries,” it added, without elaborating.

More than 30 years of breakneck economic growth have had an appalling affect on China’s environment, with rivers blackened and blankets of smog smothering many cities.

The government has pledged to do more to tackle pollution -- a cause of violent protests in some parts of China -- by closing factories and mines and investing in green technology, but admits it faces a hard and long fight.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jerry Norton