Environmental protection has been a basic national policy since the 1980s. The State Environmental Protection Committee was established in 1984 and the first Environmental Protection Law formally issued in 1989. After the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, China was one of the first countries to formulate and carry out a strategy of sustainable development. In 1993, the Environmental Resources Committee of the NPC was set up. So far, the state has promulgated eight laws for environmental protection, 14 laws for management of natural resources and 35 regulations on environmental protection. Environmental protection authorities have publicized over 100 national environmental protection regulations and more than 1,000 local ones.
Responding to stresses on natural resources caused by fast economic growth, development and urbanization, the state at the turn of the 21st century responded with a "green strategy" that includes developing a revolving economy, increasing resource-use efficiency; developing clean production, reducing pollution cost in production processes; developing green consumption, reducing ecological impact of consumption; developing new energy resources, reforming production methods, moving toward ecological industrial civilization, and creating a balanced ecological environment.
Environmental protection is changing from the down-stream, after-the-event management of the past to today's whole-process supervision and control. The Cleaner Production Promotion Law and the Environment Impact Assessment Law, which went into effect on January 1 and September 1, 2003 respectively, provide guarantees to implement this strategy. The former requires full control over all the production links -- from production design, choice of energy resources and raw materials, technology, equipment maintenance, to waste recycling -- so as to reduce pollution and promote resource recycling. The latter requires all authorities at city level and above to make environmental impact assessments when making plans for land use, construction and development of districts, river basins and sea areas. In October 2002 the State Environmental Protection Administration authorized the presence of specialized personnel at the 13 key national projects to assess and control their environmental impact. These projects included the laying of railroad lines in Qinghai Province and Tibet and the laying of pipeline transporting natural gas from western China to the eastern coastal areas.