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Soon after stalling construction work in many major projects that had not met environmental norms (see Down To Earth, 'China chooses environment over energy', January 31, 2005, p 9), China has taken another crucial step for environment protection. The country's state council recently approved, in principle, a plan for ecological protection and construction in the Sanjiangyuan nature reserve in Qinghai province. Three major rivers of the country, the Yangtze, the Yellow and the Lancang, originate from this reserve.
The council meeting, chaired by prime minister Wen Jiabao, labelled the reserve as China's most important and influential environmental zone and said the plan will boost sustainable development of the whole country. The council meet also passed a national programme, in principle, for tackling public emergencies. The programme is a guideline for regional governments and various departments to effectively handle public emergencies, safeguard life and property and reduce disaster-triggered losses.