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Hubei city rebalances growth with green goals

By Yang Yang in Xiantao | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-10 08:34

Xiantao, Hubei province, plans to develop into a green city by changing the balance between economic development and ecological protection.

"We would rather slow down development than pollute the environment," said the city's Party chief, Hu Jiuming. "We would rather have less tax revenue than retain companies that harm the environment. We would rather offend irresponsible bosses than say sorry to the people."

More than two-thirds of Xiantao's 1.55 million people are farmers, and most of its 2,538 square kilometers is agricultural land. Hu said the city is at a turning point because the traditional model of development is not sustainable, consuming a disproportionate share of resources, such as water.

Thanks to the discovery that the region's soil is rich in selenium - an essential trace element that is good for human health - agricultural products grown in Xiantao have become more valuable.

In addition to cooperating with China Oils and Foodstuffs Corp to plant high-selenium rice, Xiantao has developed a diverse array of other plants, such as beans and broccoli.

To make efficient use of water, eels are also raised. Eels from Xiantao are popular nationwide, said Cheng Guohua, director of the Xiantao Selenium-Enriched Industry Development Office.

"We have established an eco-friendly recycling system by raising rice and eels together," Cheng said. "We always put ecosystem protection ahead of economic development."

Tong Guobing, leader of the Hong Yuanze Aquaculture Cooperative, said that raising rice and eels together is a more efficient use of resources because the stool of the eel provides nourishment for the rice, and rice planted using organic methods provides eels with a good living environment.

Virtually all - 99 percent of local residents support the project, which is essential to building a green Xiantao, Hu said, noting that the project was relaunched on May 3.

Xiantao has also made great efforts to promote a healthy and low carbon-emitting lifestyle among its residents, such as building Eco Sports City, buying 120 new-energy buses and establishing a citywide public bicycle system.

Xiantao is one of the cities that have been changed by President Xi Jinping's green development philosophy recognizing clean water and lush mountains as priceless assets.

Xi has stressed the importance of promoting green development and green lifestyles to provide a better balance of economic growth and environmental protection.

China's efforts to promote green development have earned global recognition. The United Nations Environment Programme began touting China's philosophy of ecological progress in February 2013, Xinhua News Agency reported.

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