Nation makes rapid progress toward greener future

By XU WEI | China Daily | Updated: 2022-07-07 07:21
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Editor's note: China Daily is publishing a series of stories reviewing President Xi Jinping's visits at home and abroad in the past decade, showcasing his vision for development in China and around the world.

Erhai Lake in Dali, Yunnan province, boasts beautiful scenery that includes wetlands. MAO YANZHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Ecological and environmental protection efforts rewarded

After living aboard and fishing from sampans for most of her life, Chen Lanxiang never imagined a life away from the Yangtze River.

Her family's floating home near Ma'anshan, Anhui province, which lacked running water and electricity, had witnessed the depletion of stocks in China's longest river as a result of overfishing and deteriorating ecological conditions.

"In the 1990s, we harvested dozens of kilograms of fish from the Yangtze every day. Then, the number of fish we caught started to drop. Eventually it became so difficult, that catching just a few dozen kilos of fish a day was a big event for us," she said.

Chen is among some 231,000 people who used to fish the river before deciding to move ashore as China enforced a ban to protect aquatic life as stocks in the Yangtze dwindled and biodiversity declined.

Protecting the river and providing those who used to fish it with new livelihoods were emphasized by President Xi Jinping when he visited Ma'anshan in August 2020.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, inspected the Yangtze and the progress made in ecological restoration work as he took a walk along one of its banks.

He said that enforcing the fishing ban must be coupled with aid packages to enable those willing to quit fishing to prosper from new jobs.

Xi reiterated the importance of promoting well-coordinated environmental conservation and avoiding excessive expansion in developing the Yangtze River Economic Belt, calling for stronger awareness of the need to love and protect the waterway.

For many observers, the 10-year Yangtze fishing ban is just one example of the efforts made over the past decade that epitomize the nation's unprecedented commitment to environmental and ecological protection.

"We must protect ecology and the environment the same way we protect our eyes and treat life," Xi told legislators from Jiangxi province during the annual parliamentary session in 2015.

Dimitri De Boer, chief representative of the environmental law organization ClientEarth in China and also team leader of the EU-China Environment Project, said, "It has been a really amazing decade."

He said Xi has overseen a 10-year drive to tackle some of the worst threats to China's environment and public health, including pollution in the air, soil and water.

"There has really been a big shift in the level of attention paid to the environment and in public awareness about the environment over the past decade," De Boer said, adding that unwavering efforts from the government and the public have resulted in a rapid improvement in the quality of air and water.

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