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China pollution control better than developed countries at a similar stage, says minister

China is doing a better job of managing pollution than other developed countries at a similar stage in their development, environment minister Chen Jining said this week, according to Reuters.14 Mar 2016

Chen said that an improvement in the country's smog problem in the first two months of 2016 was due to China's efforts to tackle pollution and acid rain, Reuters reported.

"We have solved the problems earlier and better than developed countries," he said. "I believe that on the treatment of smog, we will also do it well and our development will become increasingly green."

Chen said that a legislation aimed at tackling soil pollution has been slow to develop due to the complexity of the problem, but that the government is already working to improve agricultural land, Reuters said.

China is also drafting a law allowing it to levy an environmental tax on polluters, to encourage emissions cuts, Chen said, according to the news agency.

Emissions from coal fires in homes and small businesses will also be tackled. "Overall, we will need a long period of time to adjust our energy structure, so we need to positively promote clean energy ... and at the same time promote the clean use of coal," he said.

The Chinese government issued a draft environmental law in June 2015, imposing levies on air, water, noise and waste polluters. The draft law was drawn up by the Chinese finance ministry, state administration of taxation, and ministry of environmental protection in a bid to promote an "energy saving, and environmentally friendly" industrial system, state-owned news agency Xinhua said.

Chen told the South China Morning Post at the time that the environment in China had "reached its limit", with high pollution and ecological damage, and that the government would take "more forceful measures" over the next five years to protect the environment.