June 6, 2005, (AFP)- The 10 western provinces of China suffer an
annual economic loss of up to 150 billion yuan (18 billion US
dollars) because of environmental deterioration, state media
The amount lost accounted for 13 percent of the local yearly
gross domestic product, the Xinhua news agency reported, quoting
a government research report.
Although the region is the focus of China's high-profile Western
Development plan, it faces growing ecological pressure caused by
soil erosion, desertification and grassland degeneration, said
Currently, the acreage suffering soil erosion has reached 2.8
million square kilometers (1.1 million square miles) in western
China, 77 percent of the national total, according to the
research, carried out by Xian Chunlin, a scholar at Ningxia
The provinces of Qinghai and Inner Mongolia, both boasting
China's major pastures, have seen serious degeneration of
grassland, with the affected area reaching 4.4 million hectares
(10.8 million acres) and 9.73 million hectares respectively,
said the report.
More than 10 million people in the western region have long been
short of drinking water because of ecological deterioration.
The Chinese government is beginning to recognize the damage
brought about by unchecked economic growth in the past two
decades, characterized by high energy and material consumption,
as well as high pollution.
The government has been trying to promote sustainable
Western China covers the ten provinces, municipalities and
autonomous regions of Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, Xinjiang,
Sichuan, Chongqing, Yunnan, Guizhou and Tibet.
It is home to 285 million people or 23 percent of China's