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China reaffirms commitment to green development

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-05-14 11:12
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BEIJING -- While checking the ecological protection work of the Fenhe River in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, on Tuesday during his inspection tour, President Xi Jinping expressed his satisfaction with the tremendous changes made to the ecological environment along the river and stressed the importance of green development.

As the second-largest tributary of the Yellow River, the Fenhe River, which stretches 716 km, passes through six cities and dozens of counties and merges into the Yellow River.

The Fenhe River has nine tributaries in the city of Taiyuan, the provincial capital. However, due to historical reasons, the river, also known as the "mother river" of Shanxi, used to be highly polluted.

This is not the first time that Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, voiced his concern over the environment along the Fenhe River.

Back in June 2017, during an inspection tour in Shanxi, he stressed efforts to increase the amount of water in the Fenhe River, improve its water quality and beautify the scenery.

As a result, Taiyuan launched the comprehensive treatment project for the nine rivers and completed it in 2018. With over 20 kinds of plants for ecological purification, greenbelts emerged on the banks of the nine rivers.

Underscoring the incorporation of environmental protection, energy revolution, green development, and economic transformation, Xi on Tuesday noted that the treatment of the Fenhe River is not only essential to the environmental protection and economic development of Shanxi, but also important to the historical and cultural inheritance of the province.

Following a green path

With the domestic COVID-19 epidemic waning and China powering ahead in returning to work and resuming business and production, Xi's remarks reaffirmed the country's determination to follow a green development path and implement the national strategy for high-quality development.

It has been a tough but firm choice for China, especially at a time when the world's second-largest economy is struggling to cope with the unprecedented economic challenge brought by the epidemic. But the country stands steadfast in resisting the old way of developing the economy at the cost of the environment.

Xi has always attached great importance to the protection and improvement of the country's water system as well as the balance between economic development and ecological protection.

Visiting a wetland of Dianchi Lake in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, in January, for instance, Xi made a similar emphasis on ecological civilization and green development. Once among the most polluted lakes in China, the Dianchi Lake has seen its ecology greatly improve after years of conservation efforts.

China has stepped up rolling out measures to enhance environmental protection and pursue high-quality development.

In April, the Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Finance announced the first batch of 55 pilot counties for water system connectivity and comprehensive improvement of rural water systems, with the central government allocating 2.5 billion yuan (about 353 million US dollars) to these counties to fight rural water pollution.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment released a plan urging local governments to actively resume 114 major ecological projects, which covered water treatment, ecological restoration, and industrial park construction and were selected to boost investment, promote economic growth, and meet the people's demand.

Green outcomes

The path of green development is vital to the country's economy and people's wellbeing. Provinces such as Shanxi have been rewarded by the environment as the ecological protection work is taking effect.

Vigorously promoting a greener economy, Shanxi, the coal-rich province, cut 27.45 million tonnes of coal production capacity and saw a GDP growth higher than the country's average level in 2019.

Last year, the province planted about 347,333 hectares of trees, and the groundwater level continued to rise in the Fenhe River valley.

Apart from supporting major environmental projects, China also resorted to having an environmental economic policy to steer businesses toward sustainable growth, unveiling a plan in December to establish a national green development fund in 2020.

The country's green finance, an emerging environmental economic policy tool, has seen rapid expansion in recent years. In 2019, its green bond issuance topped 30 billion US dollars, ranking second in the world, data from Bloomberg showed.

Behind the firm commitment to green development is the top leadership's pursuit of achieving a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the foresight of maintaining a strategic focus on improving the ecological environment in the long run.

More should be done to accelerate institutional innovation and strengthen the implementation of institutions to help form a green way of production and living, Xi has stressed.

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