Environmental awareness can support aim of raising living standards via B&R

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/6 23:03:40

The Central Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy (CAPD), one of the nation's eight non-Communist political parties, proposed during the annual two sessions this week that the government should pay attention to heavy metal pollution in drinking water in countries and regions along the route of the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, news portal caixin.com reported on Tuesday.

While many have been focusing on the infrastructure spending spree that builds on the ancient Silk Road trading routes, less attention has been paid to China's efforts involving environmental protection and social development. However, one of the major goals of the initiative is to raise living standards in economies along the route.

Heavy metal pollution is a serious concern in some of those economies. About 110 million out of the world's 140 million people who are exposed to health risks from drinking water with excessive levels of heavy metals live in nine countries in South and Southeast Asia. Most of those countries have joined the B&R initiative, but they lack effective international cooperation.

China has accumulated valuable experience in water pollution control. The country has increased its efforts to improve the quality of water in urban reservoirs and rivers that feed them since 2012, when the Ministry of Environmental Protection said that the supply of potable water in China would increase by 5 percent by 2015. Some Chinese enterprises have made breakthroughs in tackling heavy metal pollution, while the government has improved environmental regulations and sought to increase the public's environmental awareness.

The B&R framework can serve as a new platform for international cooperation to tackle heavy metal pollution in the economies that are involved. Although the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has mainly been working with other multilateral development banks, the lender has now begun taking on projects on its own. It can apply its own standards and values, which means that it can focus more on environmental protection. Chinese private companies that are involved in B&R projects should become more active in improving the local environment and related infrastructure conditions.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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