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Projects aid progress in reservoir area

By Tan Yingzi and Deng Rui in Chongqing | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-07 08:23
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People visit a pedestrian street in Chongqing's Wanzhou district in January. LI HONGBO/FOR CHINA DAILY

Once a poor and fragile region, the Three Gorges Reservoir area has undergone major changes over the past three decades. Thanks to a national pairing assistance system, the area has entered a new phase of high-quality development, with more projects being introduced.

In 1992, some 20 cities and counties in Chongqing and neighboring Hubei province, collectively known as the Three Gorges Reservoir area, began the mass relocation of about 1.3 million residents to enable the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydropower project.

Chongqing relocated 1.12 million people, accounting for 86 percent of the total. The city's Wanzhou district, a major economic power on the Yangtze River, relocated 263,000.

Since 1992, about 50 central government departments and 23 provinces and municipalities have forged partnerships with the cities and counties in the area, offering financial support and sending personnel to aid their development.

With a total investment of roughly 340 billion yuan ($47.5 billion) over the past 30 years, the area has witnessed major progress in environmental protection, industrial and social development, infrastructure construction, talent training and poverty relief, said Liu Weiping, vice-minister of water resources.

On Oct 20 this year, 76 projects — covering intelligent connected new energy vehicles, new electronic information manufacturing, advanced materials, food and agricultural product processing and software information services — worth 123.74 billion yuan were launched at the 14th National Economic and Trade Fair of Pairing Assistance in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area (Chongqing), which had kicked off a day earlier in Wanzhou.

The fair, themed "Embarking on a New Journey and Building a New Reservoir Area Together", was co-hosted by the Ministry of Water Resources and the governments of Chongqing and Hubei.

"Efforts over the past 30 years have led to sound achievements and a Chinese solution to a global problem in the Three Gorges," Liu said at a forum at the event.

However, the vice-minister pointed out that there are still some problems in terms of preparation, cooperation and assistance evaluation. "We must strengthen efforts to meet the demand for high-quality development in the area," he said.

By the end of last year, the Chongqing section of the reservoir area had received a 179.4 billion yuan investment and had seen more than 1,800 cooperation projects introduced, over 60,000 workers trained, 445 schools built and more than 1,200 personnel exchanges.

"The development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt is standing at a new historical starting point," said Jia Ruoxiang, director of the Institute of Spatial Planning and Regional Economy at the National Development and Reform Commission, while delivering a speech at a related forum on the Yangtze River Economic Belt's green development in Wanzhou in October.

Jia noted in the past few years, the Yangtze River basin has gradually recovered from "sicknesses", including soil erosion and overfishing, by stepping up conservation of the Yangtze River and ensuring stable development. As a result, people and resources in the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze have achieved a harmonious coexistence, he said.

"Next, the Yangtze River basin should continue to prioritize green development and properly manage the relationship between development and protection," Jia said.

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