Korea, China open center to tackle pollution

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Korea, China open center to tackle pollution

Korea and China opened an environmental cooperation center in Beijing on Monday to jointly work on reducing air pollution, especially from fine dust, and other environmental issues.

Korea’s minister of environment, Kim Eun-kyung, and her Chinese counterpart, Li Ganjie, the minister of ecology and environment, attended the ceremony along with Foreign Ministry officials from both countries.

The center will act as a command center that oversees and manages all areas related to environmental cooperation between the two countries. This will include joint research and exchange of information on air quality improvement and eco-friendly technology. Korean environmental technology companies will also have a chance to enter the Chinese market through the new center.

The center is one of the follow-ups from Korean President Moon Jae-in’s summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing last December. The two leaders agreed to a four-year environmental cooperation plan.

An official from Korea’s Environment Ministry and China’s Ecology and Environment Ministry will serve as co-heads of the center for two-year terms. The center’s staff will include 10 people from each country and triple to 30 by 2020.

“Our two countries share the experience of environmental pollution in the process of economic development,” Minister Kim said at the ceremony, “and our cooperation on this will play a big role in improving the environment in Northeast Asia. This launching of the Korea-China center is a pivotal point for our cooperation in improving the environment and advancing environmental projects for sustainable development.”

“Environmental issues, including the fine dust issue, is very important to the Chinese government,” Minister Li said. “The environment is a problem that we cannot be defeated by, but is also a difficult battle. China and Korea will take full advantage of the center in order to create a clean world.”

Li described Korea and China as “close partners” on environmental issues and said China aims to significantly reduce concentrations of PM2.5 particles, one of the most dangerous forms of fine dust, by 2020.

Particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less, or PM2.5, are major air pollutants that are hazardous to the health. Increased fine dust levels in Korea, partially local and partially from China according to various research, have been a point of major concern in recent years.

On Saturday and Sunday, the environment ministers of Korea, China and Japan took part in a tripartite meeting in the Chinese city of Suzhou and signed a joint statement. Kim, Li and their Japanese counterpart, Masaharu Nakagawa, discussed the fine dust issue and a “shared future” to combat environmental problems.

The ministers also discussed preparations to launch the North-East Asia Clean Air Partnership in October, a Korea-initiated joint program to share information and research on air pollution among the three nations, and agreed to implement the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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