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 (Adopted in principle on September 13, 1979 at the 11th
Meeting of the Standing Committee of the 5th National
People's Congress.)




ISSUE-DATE: 09/13/1979

IMPLEMENT-DATE: 09/13/1979

LENGTH: 2949 words



[Article 1] This law is established in accordance with Article 11 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China which provides that 'The State protects the environment and natural resources and prevents and eliminates pollution and other hazards to the public'.

[Article 2] The function of the Environmental Protection Law of the People's Republic of China is to ensure, during the construction of a modernised socialist state, rational use of natural environment, prevention and elimination of environmental pollution and damage to ecosystems, in order to create a clean and favourable living and working environment, protect the health of the people and promote economic development.

[Article 3] For the purposes of this law, 'environment' means: the atmosphere, water, land, mineral resources, forests, grassland, wildlife, wild plants, aquatic plants and animals, famous spots and historic sites, scenic spots for sightseeing, hot springs, health resorts, nature conservation areas, residential districts, etc.

[Article 4] The guidelines governing environmental protection work are: overall planning, rational layout, comprehensive utilization, conversion of harm into good, reliance upon the masses with everybody taking part in the protection of the environment for the benefit of the people.

[Article 5] The State Council and its subordinate bodies, and the local people's governments at all levels shall endeavour to carry out environmental protection work in earnest and do a good job of it.  They shall make overall plans for the protection and improvement of the environment in planning for national economic development and take practical measures for its implementation.  Where pollution of the environment and other hazards to the public have already been caused, plans should be worked out to eliminate such in a systematic and orderly manner.

[Article 6] All enterprises and institutions shall pay adequate attention to the prevention of pollution and damage to the environment when selecting their sites, designing, constructing and planning production.  In planning new construction, reconstruction and extension projects, a report on the potential environmental effects shall be submitted to the environmental protection department and other relevant departments for examination and approval before designing can be started.  The installations for the prevention of pollution and other hazards to the public should be designed, built and put into operation at the same time as the main project.  Discharge of all kinds of harmful substances shall be in compliance with the criteria set down by the State.

The units which have caused pollution and other hazards to the environment shall, according to the principle of 'whoever causes pollution shall be responsible for its elimination', make plans to actively eliminate such, or alternatively submit an application to the competent authorities for approval to transfer the property or move to some other place.

[Article 7] In rebuilding old cities or building new ones, assessments shall be made of the potential environmental effects in industrial and residential areas, public utility facilities, and green belts by reference to the meteorological, geographical, hydrological and ecological conditions, and overall planning and rational layout be made to prevent pollution and other hazards to the public so as to build a clean modern city in a planned way.

[Article 8] The citizen has the right to supervise, accuse and bring a complaint before the court against the unit or the individual who has caused pollution and damage to the environment.  The unit or the individual thus accused and charged shall not take any retaliatory action.

[Article 9] Foreigners or foreign aircraft, ships, vehicles, goods, plants and animals, etc. entering or passing Chinese territory, territorial waters, or territorial air shall be subject to the present law and other regulations and rules relating to the protection of environment.


[Article 10] Use the land rationally according to local conditions, improve the soil and increase the vegetation to prevent soil erosion, hardening, alkalinization, desertification, and water losses.

Comprehensive scientific surveys shall be carried out before going ahead with plans to reclaim wasteland, put up dykes along the seacoast or lakes, and construct large or medium-sized new water conservancy facilities.  Practical measures for protection and improvement of the environment shall be taken to prevent damage to the ecosystems.

[Article 11] Keep the waters such as rivers, lakes, seas, reservoirs, etc. from being polluted so as to preserve the quality of water in a good state.

Protect, develop and utilize aquatic flora and fauna in a rational way.  Fishing to the extent of threatening extinction of, and damage to, living resources is prohibited.

Exercise tight control over, and economize, use of water in industry, agriculture, and in daily life.  Exploit rationally the subsoil waters to prevent exhaustion of water resources and surface subsidence.

[Article 12] In exploiting mineral resources comprehensive surveying, evaluation and utilization should be carried out.  Excavating and mining at random is strictly forbidden, and tailings and slags should be appropriately disposed of, to prevent damage to resources and fouling the natural environment.

[Article 13] Strictly adhere to the National Forestry Law; protect and develop forest resources; fell trees in a rational way; tend trees and reforest at the appropriate time.

Destroying forest to reclaim land and arbitrary cutting and felling are strictly forbidden.  Preventive measures should be taken against forest fires.

Efforts should be made to plant trees everywhere and make barren hills, wasteland, desert areas and semi-desert areas green; tree planting should be vigorously carried out in villages, towns, and industrial and mining districts.  Make good use of all available scattered open spaces inside and outside factory compounds, mining districts, school campuses, office compounds, along roadsides, river banks, and around villages and houses by planting trees and grass so as to turn the whole land into a big park.

[Article 14] Protect and develop forage resources.  Actively plan and carry out the development program of grasslands; herd the sheep and cattle rationally; maintain and improve the regenerating capacity of the grasslands, and prevent the grasslands from deteriorating.  Abusive exploitation of grassland is strictly forbidden.  Efforts should be made to prevent grassland fires.

[Article 15] Protect, develop, and utilize rationally wildlife and wild plant resources.  National regulations forbid hunting of rare animals and felling of precious trees.


[Article 16] Actively prevent and control noxious substances from factories, mines, enterprises and urban life such as, waste gas, waste water, waste residues, dust, garbage, radioactive material, etc. as well as noise vibration, and bad ordours from polluting and damaging the environment.

[Article 17] Enterprises or institutions that will cause pollution of the environment shall not be set up in residential areas of cities and towns, water resource protection zones, places of historic interest and scenic beauty, scenic spots for sightseeing, hot springs, health resorts and nature conservation areas.

Where such units have been established, a target date shall be set for elimination and control of the pollution, or making necessary adjustments, or removal.

[Article 18] Actively make experiments and adopt new technology, techniques and devices which are pollution-free or will cause less pollution.

Strengthen business management and carry out civilized production; make comprehensive use of such environment-polluting substances as waste gas, waste water and waste residues, and transform them into useful things.  Discharge of such substances where necessary shall be in compliance with the criteria laid down by the State.  Where such national criteria cannot be met for the time being, a later date will be set for its compliance, after which date a limit shall be set to production if the national standards still cannot be complied with.

In cases where release of pollutants goes beyond the limits of the specified national standards, a fee shall be charged towards dealing with the release of such pollutants according to the quantities and concentrations of the pollutants released as specified in the relevant regulations.

[Article 19] All smoke discharge devices, industrial furnaces, motor vehicles, ships, etc. shall take effective measures to eliminate smoke and dust, and discharge of noxious gas shall be in compliance with the standards laid down by the State.

Develop and use on a big scale coal gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), natural gas, marsh gas, solar energy, terrestrial heat and other non-polluting or less polluting energy sources.  In the cities, district central heating should be promoted.

[Article 20] Dumping garbage and waste residues into the waters is prohibited.  Discharge of sewage shall be in compliance with the standards set down by the State.

Ships are prohibited from discharging substances containing oil or poison, and other harmful wastes into the waters protected by the law of this country.

It is strictly prohibited to discharge poisonous and harmful waste water by way of seepage pits, crevices, lava holes, or dilution methods.  Prevent seeping of industrial filthy water to ensure that subsoil water is not contaminated.

Take strong measures to protect the sources of drinking water from contamination and gradually perfect the sewage discharge piping system and sewage purification facilities.

[Article 21] Actively develop high effect, low toxic and low residue agricultural pesticides.  Promote comprehensive and biological methods of prevention and control; use rationally sewage for irrigation so as to prevent pollution of the soil and crops.

[Article 22] Step up control of noise and vibration in urban and industrial districts.  All kinds of noisy machines, motor vehicles, aircraft, etc. with heavy vibrations are required to install noise suppressors and anti-vibration devices.

[Article 23] The units which emanate harmful gases or dust should actively adopt sealed production equipment and technology, and install ventilating, dust collecting and purifying, and recovery facilities.  The amount of permissible harmful gases and dust in the working environment must conform with the standards for industrial hygiene specified by the law of this country.

[Article 24] Registration and control of toxic chemicals must be strictly carried out.  Highly toxic substances should be tightly sealed to prevent leakage during storing and transportation.

Radioactive materials, electro-magnetic radiation, etc. should be strictly monitored and controlled according to the applicable law of this country.

[Article 25] Strict precautions shall be taken to prevent pollution of food in the course of production, processing, packing, transportation, storing, and marketing.  Food inspection shall be strengthened, and sale, export and import of foods not meeting the requirements of the national hygienic standards shall be prohibited.


[Article 26] The State Council has established an Environmental Protection Office whose main functions are:

(1) To implement, and supervise the carrying out of, the national guidelines, policies, laws and acts relating to environmental protection;

(2) To draft regulations, rules, standards, economic and technical policies relating to environmental protection in conjunction with relevant departments;

(3) To make long-term programs and yearly plans for the protection of environment in conjunction with relevant departments; urge and supervise its implementation;

(4) To make unified plans for organizing the monitoring of the environment; carry out investigations and keep under review the environmental situation and trends of development of the whole country, and recommend improvement measures;

(5) To organise and coordinate in conjunction with relevant departments research and educational programs in environmental science, and actively promote foreign as well as domestic advanced experiences and techniques in the field of environmental protection;

(6) To direct the environmental protection work of all the departments under the State Council, and of the provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government;

(7) To organize and coordinate international cooperation and communication in the field of environmental protection.

[Article 27] The People's governments of the provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government shall establish environmental protection bureaux in their respective areas.  The people's governments of the municipalities, autonomous prefectures, counties, and autonomous counties may establish environmental protection organizations as required.

The main functions of the local environmental protection organizations at every level are: To supervise and urge the implementation of the national guidelines, policies, laws and acts relating to the protection of environment in the various departments and units within their jurisdictions; to draft applicable local standards and specifications concerning the environmental protection; to organise monitoring of the environment and keep under review the local environmental situation and trends of development; to make long-term programs and yearly plans applicable locally for the protection of the environment in conjunction with the relevant departments, and supervise its implementation; to organise local research and educational programs in environmental science in conjunction with relevant departments; to actively promote foreign as well as domestic advanced experiences and techniques in the field of environmental protection.

[Article 28] The relevant departments under the State Council and the local people's governments at all levels, large and medium enterprises, and relevant institutions shall establish as required environmental protection offices separately responsible for the protection of environment within their own system of affiliated organizations, departments, and units.


[Article 29] China Environmental Science Research Institute, relevant scientific institutes, universities and colleges should devote major efforts to research in the following areas: fundamental principles of environmental science, environmental management, environmental economics, comprehensive control techniques, environmental quality evaluation, environmental pollution and human health, rational use and protection of natural environment, etc.

[Article 30] Cultural and publicity departments should actively carry out publicity and educational programs to disseminate the knowledge of environmental science so as to enhance the understanding of the general public about the significance of environmental protection work and to raise the scientific and technical standards in the environmental field.

Environmental protection specialists should be trained in a planned way.  The educational departments should establish a required course or speciality in environmental protection in the relevant departments of the universities and colleges.  Middle and primary school textbooks should include appropriate texts relating to environmental protection. 


[Article 31] The State will give commendations and rewards to units and individuals who have made outstanding achievements and contributions to the work of environmental protection.

The State will grant tax reductions or exemptions on, and apply a preferential pricing policy to, products manufactured by utilizing waste gas, waste water, and waste residues as main material, and the profits originating therefrom need not be turned over to the higher authorities but will be used by the manufacturers concerned to control pollution and improve the environment.

[Article 32] Units which have violated this law and other environmental protection regulations and rules by polluting and damaging the environment and causing hazards to the people's health shall, according to the merit of each case, be criticized, warned, fined, or ordered to pay damages and stop production and control and eliminate such pollution, by the environmental protection organizations at various levels subject to the approval of the people's government of the corresponding level.

Unit leaders, persons directly responsible or other citizens who have caused serious pollution and damage to the environment resulting in casualties or substantial damage to farming, forestry, animal husbandry, side-line production and fishery shall be held responsible administratively, economically, and even criminally, as the case may be, according to law.


[Article 33] The State Council may establish regulations and rules relating to environmental protection according to the present law.

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