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West Told to Stop Blaming China for Pollution

Western countries were urged Monday to stop the China blame game and work with developing nations to fix global warming problems, said business and government leaders at the World Economic Forum on East Asia meeting in Singapore.

Singling out China is pointless, said Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Malaysia's second minister of finance. "It's wrong. There should not be hypocrisy," he added.

Yakcop noted that polluting factories in China are mostly owned by US and European multinational corporations benefiting from China's cheap labour resources.

Participants at the two-day conference were focusing on a recent study that shows China produced the highest level of carbon dioxide emissions in 2006 and has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest polluter. It was funded by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

China and other developing countries have little choice but to continue to welcome foreign investments, Yakcop said. "We can't slow down because we've got plenty of poverty."

Chen Feng, chairman of China Hainan Airlines, supported the need for collective global action in tackling the serious environmental problem. He said industrialisation in the West, particularly in the UK more than a century ago, created the present problem.

However, Ralph Peterson, chief executive officer of US-based CH2M HILL Companies expressed concern for the manner in which Asian countries are currently consuming energy. The chair of the US management, design and construction firm, cited statistics showing that while countries belonging to the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) account for 11 per cent of the global output, they use 21 per cent of its energy.

ASEAN includes Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma).

China accounts for 5.5 per cent of the global GDP, but consumes 15 per cent o f the energy, said Peterson. Its water consumption as a percentage of its GDP is four times the world average.

Masatoshi Wakabayashi, Japan's minister of the environment, called for a new global mechanism to achieve the Group of Eight's (G8) objective of reducing greenhouse emissions by half in 2050.

The G8 objective was outlined at this year's G8 summit held at Heiligendamm in Germany earlier this month.


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