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China Focus: China's Yangtze River Belt sees coordinated economic, ecological development

Release time:2022-01-21 author: xinhua source:xinhua
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BEIJING, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Six years after China made the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt a national strategy, the country has taken great strides in balancing economic growth and environmental protection in the region.

The gross domestic product of the region, covering nine provinces and two municipalities, amounted to 38.26 trillion yuan (about 6 trillion U.S. dollars) in the first three quarters of 2021, up 10.6 percent from a year earlier.

A total of 90.6 percent of the region's water met a level-three standard or above in the first three quarters of 2021, rising 1.8 percentage points from the previous year and 23.6 percentage points from 2016, official data shows. China classifies water quality into six levels, from level one, which is suitable for drinking after minimal treatment, to level six, which is severely polluted.

The results follow a wide range of ecological conservation efforts by China over a period of years aimed at protecting its "mother river."

In 2021, China planted 17.87 million mu (about 1.19 million hectares) of trees along the belt, and treated 3.92 million mu of stony deserts and 5.75 million mu of water and soil erosion in the area.

Following the implementation of a 10-year fishing ban in pivotal waters, nearly 500 Yangtze finless porpoises were detected last year in Poyang Lake, the country's biggest freshwater lake linking with the Yangtze River. The endangered species, known as the "giant panda of the water," is a barometer of the ecological environment in the Yangtze River basin.

The various practices undertaken by China have shown that development and environmental protection are complementary.

Over the past six years, China has relocated, transformed or suspended over 9,600 chemical enterprises along the economic belt.

Yichang, a city situated along the river in central China's Hubei Province, once thrived on its phosphorite mines and phosphorus chemical industry. While the industry brought plenty of profits to locals, it also created river pollution.

In an effort to turn its ecological advantages into economic advantages while protecting the environment, by the end of October last year, the city had relocated or transformed 124 chemical firms. The profits and tax revenues of its chemical industry have both recorded 10 percent growth for two consecutive years.

After the launch of a new-energy battery project at the end of 2021, Yichang found its way into the new-energy sector, said Yichang's Executive Vice Mayor Wang Yuancheng, adding that the city will eventually witness a complete upgrade of its industrial chain.