China energy-saving law ups pressure on officials

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BEIJING, Oct 29 (Reuters) China has stepped up its conservation drive with a law that makes officials' career prospects dependent in part on their energy-saving efforts, the Xinhua news agency said.

The country's top legislature yesterday approved a series of amendments to its energy-saving law, almost doubling the size of the legislation.

Among the new provisions is one that requires the performance reviews for local government officials' -- vital for advancement in the Communist Party -- to include an assessment of their energy-saving efforts.

Beijing is trying to steer the world's fourth-largest economy away from a model of growth at any cost towards more sustainable development, as the human and economic costs of nearly three decades of dirty expansion mount up.

Officials are also concerned about the increasing reliance on foreign oil, which now accounts for nearly half of the country's needs even though it was a next exporter until the early 1990s.

''The way in which energy-saving goals are accomplished will be made part of the performance rating of local governments and their leaders,'' Xinhua quoted the revised law as saying.

The revised law also stipulates that energy producers are not allowed to provide free energy to their employees. But it did not tackle an issue which many analysts say is at the root of China's wasteful energy use -- low state-set prices for power.

REUTERS SYU HS1020

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