Nav Search

Yangtze River Economic Belt: A Showcase for Green Development

Source: Xi Jinping The Governance of China IV Updated: 2023-09-06

Yangtze River Economic Belt: A Showcase for Green Development*

November 14, 2020

We will implement the guidelines of the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017 and the second, third, fourth and fifth plenary sessions of the 19th CPC Central Committee held in the three years that followed. To write a new chapter in green development that gives priority to eco-environmental conservation, we will act on the new development philosophy and promote high-quality development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt (YREB). This will set a new example of coordinated development among regions, raise opening up to new and higher levels, build new strengths in innovation-driven development, and create a new example of harmony between humanity and nature. The goal is to make the YREB a showcase for China’s green development prioritizing eco-environmental conservation, a major artery boosting domestic and global economic flows, and an important leader in high-quality economic development.

In the past five years, under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee, provinces and cities along the Yangtze River have worked with unprecedented intensity and on a grand scale to improve their eco-environment and accelerate their transformation to green and low-carbon economic and social development. The result has been huge progress in eco-environmental protection in the YREB, and historic successes have been achieved in economic and social development. The YREB region has generally enjoyed steady economic growth under an optimized structure. Local living standards have significantly improved, and economic growth has been achieved together with improvements in environmental protection. In particular, since the beginning of this year, provinces and cities along the river have responded effectively to the sudden outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic by balancing epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development, and have effectively offset the impact of major floods and the worsening external environment, playing a prominent role in making China the first major economy to return to positive growth.

The YREB represents a major policy decision on the part of the CPC Central Committee. It is an important strategy with a bearing on China’s overall development. The 19th CPC Central Committee detailed specific requirements for the YREB initiative in the proposals adopted at its Fifth Plenary Session earlier this year. The YREB covers 11 provinces and cities along the river, and spans the east, center, and west of China, accounting for half of the country’s population and economic output. It is of critical importance to the national eco- environment and has huge development potential. This has determined that it should play a key role in implementing the new development philosophy, creating a new development dynamic, and promoting high-quality development.

Protection and restoration of the eco-environment should be strengthened. We must take a holistic and systematic view of the ecosystem and the Yangtze River Basin, identify the root causes of existing problems, carry out systematic protection and restoration, and avoid any resort to stopgap measures. We must make coordinated efforts to manage such eco-elements as mountains, rivers, forests, farmland, lakes and grasslands, promote interaction and cooperation in the upper, middle and lower reaches of the river, and strengthen the coordination of all relevant measures. At the same time we need to focus on overall progress. While making breakthroughs in key areas, we need to strengthen systematic and holistic measures to prevent imbalanced development and guard against the tendency of attending to one matter while losing sight of others.

Conditional on the strictest eco-environmental protection, we will improve the efficiency of resource utilization, accelerate green and low-carbon development, and strive to build green development pilot zones where humanity and nature coexist in harmony.

Top priority must be given to restoring the eco-environment of the Yangtze River, and a new system for comprehensive control must be established. To improve the eco-environment of the river and the eco-functions of its waters, and to secure the quality and stability of the ecosystems, we should take into consideration multiple factors and their interactions, including the aquatic environment, the aquatic ecosystem, water resources, water security, water culture and the coastline. We must implement coordinated management and control of the upper, middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, its banks, trunk streams and tributaries, and the rivers, lakes and reservoirs in the basin.

We must strengthen territorial space control and negative list management, enforce red lines for ecological conservation, continue to carry out projects for eco-environmental restoration and pollution control, and keep the ecosystems of the Yangtze River natural and intact. We need to step up efforts to establish mechanisms to realize the market value of green products, so that environmental protection and restoration efforts receive reasonable returns and those who damage the environment pay the price. We will improve the systems for monitoring and early warning of water disasters, for disaster prevention and control, and for emergency rescue and relief. We will make comprehensive efforts to improve river courses and reinforce embankments, so as to build the Yangtze River into a tranquil river that does not burst its banks.

* Main points of the speech at a forum on the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt.

(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)