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Protecting nature tops agenda
Updated: 2015-03-11

Xi points the way for ecological civilization

Achieving ecological civilization is atop the agenda of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, which, under the leadership of General Secretary Xi Jinping, has strived to enhance environmental qualities, Xinhua News Agency said on Tuesday.

Xi has stressed the importance of environmental protection by saying that "we should protect the environment like we protect our eyes and treat the environment like it is our lives," according to Xinhua.

The president also said the demands of development and the need to preserve the Earth's limited resources form an enduring conflict.

"The conflict also occurred in China," Xi said. "The environment in China did not turn bad in one day. All the Party members should have the determination that we should not make it become worse."

The environment has been given unprecedented importance in decision-making since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, held in 2012, wrote the establishment of ecological civilization into the CPC Constitution for the first time.

Since the National Congress, Xi has been highlighting building ecological civilization in various events, such as state visits to foreign countries and domestic and international meetings.

Topics related to environmental protection have been mentioned by Xi more than 60 times.

In 2013, when answering questions from students of Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev University, Xi said China will never pursue temporary economic growth at the expense of environmental degradation.

"The pursuit of harmony between human and nature is about having both gold mountains and green mountains," Xi said, referring to rapid economic growth and a good environment.

"Green mountains are equal to gold mountains," Xi said.

Xi's vision of environmental protection is related to his working experience in Fujian province.

During his political tenure in Fujian, Xi offered great support for fighting soil and water erosion in Changting county of Longyan.

Statistics showed that in 1985, the total area of land affected by water loss and soil erosion in Changting county was 97,333 hectares, accounting for 31.5 percent of the total land area.

Since 2000, the county has put about 78,500 hectares of eroded land under control, and increased forest coverage to 79.4 percent from 59.8 percent in 1986.

Zhang Yuzhen, a deputy to the National People's Congress and deputy director of Fujian's Academy of Environmental Science, said the people of Changting have taken pains and toiled for decades to turn the barren mountains into a land of flowers and fruit. Zhang said they set a terrific example of building ecological civilization.

Liang Jianyong, an NPC deputy and Party chief of Longyan, said the reference to gold mountains and green mountains is a vivid expression that allows people to understand balancing development and nature.

"When tackling the environment issue, local authorities of Changting prohibited villagers from chopping down wood for fuel and encouraged local farmers to plant cash crops such as chestnut, waxberry and tea-oil trees," Liang said.

"It is not simply about planting trees to protect the soil. Farmers can make a fortune by selling forestry products. So they have both gold mountains and green mountains," Liang said.

Contact the writers at sunli@chinadaily.com.cn and humeidong@chinadaily.com.cn