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China Says Climate Policy Must Make Room for Growth

China said on Monday its response to the threats of climate change must give overriding priority to economic development as the nation seeks to balance ambitions for growth with fears of environmental calamity.

The remarks came in China's first national plan on climate change, which sets out the country's broad policies on global warming and greenhouse gas pollution.

"The first and overriding priorities of developing countries are sustainable development and poverty eradication," the plan states. "China will continue to actively tackle climate change issues in accordance with its national sustainable development strategy in the future."

The unveiling of Beijing's broad blueprint comes two days before President Hu Jintao attends a meeting of Group of Eight leaders in Germany at which global warming will feature.

His country is facing international pressure to spell out targets for taming greenhouse gas emissions, which are trapping more heat in the atmosphere and threatening dangerous climate change.

International contention over emissions is set to intensify as negotiations open on extending a U.N. treaty on global warming and emissions beyond 2012, when the first phase of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol ends.

China and other developing countries signed that treaty, but under current rules they do not have to set goals for emissions.

Beijing is willing to strengthen international cooperation on climate change, but any regional cooperation should "complement" the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N.-sponsored treaty, the Chinese plan says.

U.S. President George W. Bush has signaled that he might seek an international agreement on the issue outside the Kyoto framework.

"Regional cooperation on climate change, in any form, should function as a helpful complement to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol rather than replacing or weakening them," China's plan states, referring to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto's parent treaty.

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