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County witnesses stunning green success story

By WANG HAO,CAO DESHENG and HU MEIDONG in Changting county, Fujian | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-06-10 07:01

Visitors tour the site of the Fujian Soviet government in Changting. WEI PEIYUAN/XINHUA

Changting is one of the country's old revolutionary base areas. These local strongholds were established in remote areas with mountainous or forested terrain by revolutionary forces led by the Communist Party of China as it fought the Kuomintang during the Land Revolution Period (1927-37) and the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).

The county was also one of the starting points for the Red Army's Long March (1934-36). Late Chairman Mao Zedong and other senior leaders lived and worked in Changting, and the Fujian Soviet government, established by the CPC from 1930 to 1935, was situated in the county.

Data from the Science and Education Museum of Soil Erosion Control in Changting show that in wartime, the trees on local mountains were often burned and felled, causing severe soil erosion before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

In 1934, the Fujian Soviet government organized local people to develop afforestation in order to protect the environment. To improve poor natural conditions, a system to control soil erosion was established in Changting in December 1940, the first of its kind in China.

The situation in the county remained unchanged after 1949, as locals in mountainous areas turned to felling trees and using other vegetation for fuel due to a shortage of coal and electricity. The mountains were laid bare and the people remained extremely poor.

Fu said that decades ago, his fellow villagers were mostly at the mercy of the weather. "When it rained heavily, farmland was flooded by red soil flowing down from the mountains. When this happened, crops failed," he said.

In 1983, efforts to curb environmental damage in Changting were stepped up as the Fujian provincial government started to control and curb soil erosion and the county became a trial area for such efforts.

When Xi Jinping worked in Fujian in various positions from 1987 to 2002, he placed great emphasis on conservation.

He said that in Fujian, "lush mountains and lucid waters are priceless assets". This has become an important part of his governance philosophy for building an ecological civilization with a view to creating a fruitful balance between economic development and environmental protection, and harmony between humans and nature.

Xi traveled to Changting on five occasions, leading the local government in tackling soil and water damage. He told officials efforts had been made to control such damage, even in the days of Old China. "Now that the country is governed by the CPC, we are able to do it better," he said.

In November, 1999, Xi, who was deputy secretary of the CPC Fujian Provincial Committee and acting governor of the province, launched a campaign to harness water loss and soil erosion.

In February the following year, the campaign was listed among 15 projects benefiting people in the province the most. Xi also approved financial support of 10 million yuan annually for the county to control soil erosion.

After hearing that Changting would build an ecological park in the spring of 2000, Xi donated 1,000 yuan, a large proportion of his monthly salary at the time, and later planted a camphor tree in the park, a county government official said. In October, 2001, Xi issued a written instruction, urging local officials to address the soil erosion problem through eight years of painstaking efforts.

Under Xi's instruction, generations of Changting residents have continued to take measures to protect the area's environment, with financial and technological support from the provincial government.

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