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Environment comes lowest in Chinese ‘comfort’ survey

By Xinhua

Beijing : Environment is one aspect of life the average Chinese is most unsatisfied with for the third year running, according to a “comfort survey” conducted by a state-run magazine.

Respondents gave 56.6 out of 100 points to the environment, grading it the lowest of the 11-point “xiaokang or moderate prosperity index”.

Happiness with 79.6 points has been graded highest on a scale, which marks 60 as the minimum satisfaction level.

According to the Xiaokang magazine, all the indices this year increased from last year’s except the credit index, which dropped 0.1 points from 2006, and the environment index, which stayed the same.

The monthly magazine, a subsidiary of Qiushi (Seeking Truth) Magazine, which is sponsored by the Central Committee of Communist Party of China (CPC), has been compiling the xiaokang indices since 2005.

The 11 indices covered in the annual survey are entertainment, food, public services, housing, health, environment, education, consumption, safety, credit, and happiness.

“The respondents are not satisfied with the environment mainly because of frequent problems of environmental pollution and awareness of the issue,” said, Guo Fang, editor of the magazine in charge of the survey.

The State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) has said China’s overall environmental situation was still “serious” with frequent pollution accidents affecting the quality of life for many.

Last year, 842 serious pollution accidents were reported, including 482 cases of water pollution and 232 cases of air pollution.

The food index, which covers the quality and cost of food, was second highest 72.7 points, counter to perceptions of discontent due to surging inflation and quality scares.

“The main reason the respondents rated food higher than last year was government efforts to control the food quality and safety,” Guo said, adding food quality had been the major concern for respondents in all three years.

The housing index was another surprising rise due to soaring property prices in many cities. It stood at 63.7 points, a bit up from 62.4 in 2006.

The magazine jointly conducted the survey with an institute under the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) through questionnaires, on-line surveys and interviews.

They received 9,000 on-line responses at www.sina.com.cn, a leading Chinese website, and about 33,000 answers to questionnaires and interviews from the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Chengdu and the provincial-level regions of Inner Mongolia, Guizhou and Guangxi.