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Thursday, March 5, 2015, 10:42

Li vows to fight pollution, corruption

By Agencies

 Li vows to fight pollution, corruption

BEIJING - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday his government would do everything it could to fight pollution and pledged zero tolerance for corruption.

Li, speaking at the opening of the annual full session of the National People's Congress, called pollution a "blight on people's quality of life and a trouble that weighs on their hearts".

"We must fight it with all our might," Li said.

"We must strictly enforce environmental laws and regulations; crack down on those guilty of creating illegal emissions and ensure they pay a heavy price for such offences; and hold those who allow illegal emissions to account, punishing them accordingly."

China's top state planning agency pledged on Thursday to accelerate policies to promote cleaner and renewable sources of energy and tackle overcapacity in polluting industrial sectors.

The National Development and Reform Commision (NDRC) in its annual report published at the opening of the full session of parliament said that it would implement policies aimed at reducing coal consumption and controlling the number of energy-intensive projects in polluted regions.

It also said that it would take action to boost the proportion of cleaner fuels, encourage the development and utilisation of natural gas, and aggressively develop renewable wind, solar and biofuel energy sources.

While trying to cut the consumption of polluting fossil fuels to ease choking smog, the NDRC said it would also take action to "turn the coal sector around", with prices at low levels and more than 70 percent of miners said to be facing losses.

According to the government work report delivered to parliament by Premier Li Keqiang, China will aim to cut energy intensity - the amount of energy used per unit of GDP growth - by 3.1 percent in 2015.

The rate fell by 4.8 percent in 2014, and the government is on course to meet a 16 percent drop over the 2011-2015 period.

On corruption, a deep-seated problem President Xi Jinping has vowed to fight, Li said the battle would not end.

"Our tough stance on corruption is here to stay; our tolerance for corruption is zero, and anyone guilty of corruption will be dealt with seriously. We will see to it that every instance of corruption, should it be committed higher up or lower down, is severely punished," he said.

"We will intensify government supervision, make full use of auditing oversight, and strictly monitor public funds, public resources and state-owned assets."

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