Hunan Governor Zhou Qiang answers a question during an interview with chinadaily.com.cn in Beijing March 11, 2008. Zhou visited the website office for an exclusive interview by Zhao Huanxin, deputy editor-in-chief of chinadaily.com.cn.[chinadaily.com.cn]
Blizzard-hit Province Warms to Green Outlook
Hunan will stick to the scientific outlook on development in its post-disaster reconstruction and local economic development, said provincial Governor Zhou Qiang in an exclusive interview with chinadaily.com.cn in Beijing on Tuesday.
The worst snowstorms and freezing rain that hit southern China in half a century rang alarm bells over the province's traditional model of natural resource development, Zhou said. He added adding that Hunan will learn from the costly lesson and try to expand its economy by 10 percent this year in a more environmentally friendly way.
Zhou said the efforts in fighting blizzards and restoring people's homes and livelihoods were completely successful, with transportation, power and economy back to normal, adding that no one in the province starved or froze to death during the winter disaster.
Cleaning up the Province
Zhou, awarded a Champion of the Earth by the United Nations in 2005, established a blueprint for the provincial government’s efforts to maintain a sustainable development path.
Hunan will push forward the development of the Changsha, Zhuzhou and Xiangtan regions, investing heavily in an experimental zone towards a balanced development of the province. In December 2007, the State Council, China's Cabinet, designated these three cities as an experimental zone for energy-saving and environmentally friendly programs.
Located in the northeastern part of Hunan, Changsha, Zhuzhou and Xiangtan are traditional industrial cities and face a lack of resources and environmental pollution.
"We will also strive to make breakthroughs in areas such as energy-saving, environmental protection and financial services," Zhou explained.
Hunan will try to reduce its energy intensity, or the amount of energy needed to produce a unit of GDP, by 4 percent this year.
It also aims to cut its carbon dioxide and chemical oxygen emissions by 2 percent. Last year, the province saw its energy intensity and pollutant emissions fall for the first time.
Zhou said Hunan will embark on a number of environmental clean-up projects. These include a campaign to clean up pollution in the Xiangjiang River and Dongting Lake regions, and invest 10 billion yuan in the next three years to establish water treatment facilities in all the cities and towns in the province.
Hunan has already suspended the operations of 234 paper mills around Dongting Lake, one of the five largest freshwater lakes in the nation. Local authorities have also set a deadline for another 596 paper mills to clean up their acts.
Staging a Successful Future
The Governor reported while fighting the blizzards a complete success, the worst snowstorms and icy rain in 50 years devastated the power grid system in Hunan Province, making people's lives difficult.
To offset the economic impact brought by the disaster and the pollution control, Zhou said the province will continue to woo foreign investment, and encourage overseas companies to invest in areas such as agriculture, high-tech and modern service industries.
Direct foreign investment in Hunan amounted to $10.84 billion over the past five years, representing an average growth of 26 percent annually. Currently, more than 42 Fortune 500 enterprises have set up operations in Hunan.