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Former watchdog calls for more transparency
Government-backed charity groups must improve transparency or risk losing donors and public trust, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing a former watchdog official.
Wang Zhenyao, the former head of the department of social welfare and charities under the Ministry of Civil Affairs, also called for a loosening in the requirement for organizations to be registered as public charity foundations. Only public foundations that are affiliated to the government are allowed to raise funds from the public.
A series of scandals triggered a public outcry over government-backed charity groups last year.
“This dented the image of China’s public charity groups,” according to Wang.
Education favored by charity donors
China received a total of 24 million yuan ($3.8 million) in donations in the week Jan 28 to Feb 3, China Philanthropy Times reported, citing information from the China Charity and Donation Information Center.
Education received the most donations at 77 percent, according to the report.
Overall, charities received more than 60 percent of the donations, the report said.
School bus standards to be enacted this year
The Ministry of Education pledged to set up a nationwide school bus standard before the end of this year after a series of deadly school bus accidents in late 2011 aroused public concern over the vehicles’ reliability, Beijing News reported.
The ministry also said it plans to establish a lodging school system in rural areas and will be more cautious on issues such as merging and abolishing schools in remote regions.
The government’s move to reduce the number of schools in rural areas has forced many children to travel several kilometers between school and home each day.
Thousands of hectares of wetlands restored
China restored 23,000 hectares of wetlands in 2011, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing information from the State Forestry Administration (SFA).
An SFA spokesman said China reinforced wetland protection in 2011 by increasing subsidies in appropriate areas. During the year the country carried out 42 wetland protection projects, increased 330,000 hectares of protected wetland areas, added four wetlands of international importance and 68 national wetland parks.
The spokesman said in 2012 the country will further step up wetland protection and restoration, finish the second national wetland resources investigation and carry out pilot projects in assessing healthy conditions of the wetland ecological system.
Ecological security barrier for Tibet
Southwest China’s Tibet autonomous region spent 3.2 billion yuan ($507 million) in 2011 to turn the area into an “ecological security barrier”, the local government said.
The spending financed 10 major projects including the conservation of Tibet’s pastureland and wetlands, measures to prevent forest fires and pests, wildlife protection and environmental monitoring, said Zhang Yongze, the regional environmental protection chief.
Tibet, covering more than 1.2 million square kilometers, plays a vital role in maintaining the eco balance on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. With abundant glacier resources, rivers, wild animals and plants, the plateau region is widely recognized as a potential regulator against climate change for Asia and the entire Northern Hemisphere.
The State Council, China’s cabinet, approved plans for the construction of Tibet’s eco-security barrier in 2009.
Paper recycling to be promoted
China will promote recycling paper and reducing its use in order to save resources and protect the environment, according to the country’s new five-year plan for its paper industry.
The authorities should urge people to cut back on using high-quality paper such as sheets with high whiteness, said the country’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for the paper industry, released in January.
Current paper product standards should be revised to encourage the production of energy-saving and emission-reducing paper, and promote the substitution of paper packaging with other options, said the plan.
The plan requires government purchasers to give priority to paper products mixed with waste paper, and to reduce paper use by switching to digital systems.
More trees for Beijing
The municipal government of Beijing said it plans to add 1 million mu (66,667 hectares) of woodland in the next five years, Beijing News reported on Feb 2.
The move will lift the capital’s forest coverage to more than 25 percent, it said.
The government plans to add 200,000 mu of forests this year. The urban afforestation program was set to be a key emphasis in the government’s annual work agenda, said the newspaper.
Most of the woodlands are planned for flat areas in southern Beijing, according to the local government.
Fish farmers banned from selling produce
Fish farmers in two counties in the lower reaches of a cadmium-contaminated river in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region have been banned from selling their fish, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Fishermen from the Liujiang and Liucheng counties of Liuzhou city have been prohibited from selling farmed and wild fish from the Rongjiang River, where the spill occurred, according to a ruling by the Liuzhou Municipal Fishery, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Bureau.
The two counties are located downstream of the Rongjiang River, right before it joins the Liujiang River, which runs through Liuzhou city.
The local government pledged to evaluate fishermen’s losses and will order the polluter to pay compensation to the fishermen, local newspapers reported.
China Daily – Agencies
(China Daily 02/13/2012 page22)