Chongqing —The world’s third-longest river- the Yangtze River stretches more than 6,300 kilometers in China. It’s called the “mother river” of the Chinese nation.
Since January 2016, General Secretary Xi Jinping has gone to Chongqing Municipality, Hubei Province, Hunan Province, Jiangsu Province, and other places to investigate the protection of the Yangtze River and encourage them to protect the ecological environment of the Yangtze River basin
On the occasion of China’s Two Sessions, deputies to the National People’s Congress(NPC) and members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference(CPPCC), from provinces and cities along the Yangtze River, are invited to talk about the gratifying results of the protection of the Yangtze River and provide suggestions for the green development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt.
“Today, the law on Yangtze River conservation takes effect. As China’s first river basin special law, the law puts forward new requirements for the Yangtze River biological protection, sewage treatment, flood control, disaster relief, and ecological restoration.” Yu Guodong, member of the CPPCC National Committee, member of the Central Committee of Jiusan Society, and deputy director of the Chongqing Municipal Bureau of Ecology and Environment, said on March 1 that the promulgation and implementation of the Yangtze River protection law will surely form a rigid restraint mechanism to protect the mother river.
Looking back, as a member of the CPPCC National Committee who has been fighting on the front line of water resources protection for a long time, Yu Guodong is familiar with the effectiveness of Chongqing’s “water governance”.
“In recent years, Chongqing has fully implemented the requirements of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important instructions, putting the restoration of the Yangtze River ecological environment at the core position, and achieved remarkable results. As of the end of 2020, the Chongqing section of the Yangtze River has excellent water quality.
Controlling water pollution and protecting the water environment has a bearing on the well-being of the people. When it comes to the future, Yu Guodong feels great responsibility. “Chongqing is the last pass of the ecological barrier on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, and it plays an irreplaceable role in the ecological security of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. We must handle the relationship between protection and development, and to further strengthen the protection of the Yangtze River and the green development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, and transform ecological advantages into development advantages.
“On the morning of April 24, 2018, General Secretary Xi Jinping went to Hubei and Hunan provinces to inspect work done for the protection of the Yangtze River. Once off the plane, he went to the Xingfa Group Yichang New Material Industrial Park to inspect the progress of relocation and renovation work, as well as re-landscaping of the wharf area.”
Li Guozhang, a deputy to the National People’s Congress, Secretary of the Party Committee and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hubei Xingfa Chemicals Group, introduced the company’s efforts to protect the Yangtze River.
Li explained that Xingfa Group has focused on the overall ecological situation by insisting on the protection of the Yangtze River over economic considerations, the dismantling of chemical plant infrastructure along the river, and the plantation of camphor and magnolia to restore greenery and vitality to the riverside.
At present, a total of 32 chemical installations have been shut down, relocated, or dismantled. At the same time, the 900-meter shoreline has been restored to create a green ecological corridor in the Yangtze River area in accordance with urban park standards.
In the past three years, Xingfa Group has kept in mind the instructions and entrustment given by the General Secretary and has forged ahead in exploration and practice on the road towards scientific and sustainable development in the long term.
The green transformation has brought new momentum for the green development of the group. Despite impacts ravaged by the epidemic last year, the operating performance of Hubei Xingfa Chemicals Group grew contrary to the general trend, with an annual sales revenue of 40.5 billion yuan, representing a year-on-year increase of 3.5%.
Pan Biling, a member of the CPPCC National Committee and deputy director of the Hunan Provincial Department of Ecology and Environment, happily told reporters, “There were more than 288,000 wintering waterbirds at Dongting Lake in 2020, an increase of 16.6% year-on-year, and the highest in 18 years.”
“As a province located in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, Hunan plays an indispensable role in maintaining the ecological and environmental safety.” Explained Pan Biling, as the ecological environment in the southern section of the Yangtze River and Dongting Lake area has continued to improve.
According to data in 2020, 108 sections in the Hunan Yangtze River mainstream, and the Xiang, Zi, Yuan, and Li rivers all met or exceeded Grade II water quality. The average concentration of phosphorus in Dongting Lake was 0.06 mg/L, a 46% decrease from 2015.
Rare birds such as white cranes, white storks, and cygnets were frequently seen, while the stable population of finless porpoises reached 220, and the population of elk reached 164.
The quality of the ecological environment is a fragile balance that requires long-term care. While Pan Biling saw that ecological environmental protection in the Yangtze River Basin has achieved initial results, the security situation in terms of the water environment is still severe, and results gained from improvements in some areas are still unstable.
There are yet shortcomings in the construction of urban and rural infrastructure built for pollution control. Agricultural non-point source pollution such as livestock, poultry manure, and aquaculture tailwater has become increasingly evident.
Many issues persist in the relationship between rivers and lakes, as there are shortages of water resources in some areas, as well as prominent difficulties resulting from damage to the water ecology.
He believes that provinces and cities along the Yangtze River should continue adherence to the core value of improving ecological quality, with a problem-oriented approach that focuses on solving ecological and environmental problems that affect the people.
The Yangtze River Protection Law should be thoroughly implemented, and scientifically highlight accurate pollution control in accordance with legal norms, whilst promotion of environmental protection in the Yangtze River Basin is carried out in a vigorous, orderly and effective manner.
The Jiangsu Provincial Committee of the Chinese Democratic League has conducted surveys on the protection of the Yangtze River in Jiangsu last year, where the greening effect alongside the Yangtze River and its tributaries has significantly improved, said Dou Xiping, a deputy to the National People’s Congress, chief engineer of the Nanjing Institute of Water Conservancy Sciences, and deputy chairman of the Jiangsu Provincial Committee of the Chinese Democratic League.
“Many enterprises and docks have been relocated and reformed,” said Dou. “With the remarkable result of shoreline governance, it is great to see a green landscape stretches to the broad waters of the Yangtze River.”
Dou continued, Nantong has done tremendous work in governing the shoreline area, including rectifying and banning 53 illegal docks along the river in the city, shutting down 333 chemical companies, upgrading 396 chemical companies, and transferring and reorganizing 24 chemical companies.
Statistics show that the proportion of ecological shoreline in the Nantong section of the Yangtze River has increased by 3% compared with 2015, while in 2020, a total of 2,230 mu of afforestation project has been completed along the river.
“Jiangsu is located in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River,” said Dou. “the continuous management of the ecological environment is inseparable from the cooperation of the upper, middle, and lower reaches of the river. It also requires the strengthening of governance efforts in various regions and provinces.”
Dou thinks a chain-like clustering of intelligent manufacturing, high-end services, and green industries along the river shall be achieved, by reducing the number of heavy chemical companies in environmentally sensitive areas, promoting the transfer of compliant companies from along the river to the coast, accelerating industrial transformation and upgrading, and forming a riverside green manufacturing system.
“The Yangtze River is known as the golden waterway,” said Dou. “Next, we must coordinate the layout of industries along the river to protect and make good use of the golden waterway.”
The Yangtze River, winding through 11 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities from east to west, is China’s golden waterway. Protecting and improving the environment along the major waterway while developing the economy has been one of the top priorities of China.
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