Hurt coal city goes green for new life
At a recent press conference, the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economicplanner, said this year’s plan to cut 250 million metric tons of coal overcapacity might be finished ahead of time.
That’s good news for the economic structure. But what about the workers of the industry?
Pingdingshan city in Central China’sHenan province, which used to rely on coal production for its economy, has creatively solved this problem by developing green industries to employ the former coal workers.
China Pingmei Shenma Group, one of the city’s main coal companies, has shut down 14 coal mines and cut 2.58 million tons of production capacity. It said it plans to cut more overcapacity in the year.
That cut means 17,735 jobs have disappeared. AndCPSG is only one of the companies to cut overcapacity. Compared with five years ago, the capacity of six high energyconsuming industries in the overall industrial sector has dropped by 14.3 percent.
Analysts said jobs are a problem for not only the individuals, but also the company and local government, because jobs concern social stability.
While shutting down the coal mines, the municipal government of Pingdingshan has been actively cultivating green industries to prevent the unemployment rate from rising.
The city has good local conditions that can help. It owns the great Yaoshan Mountain Buddha Sculpture, which is a national 5A-level tourist site, the highest-level rating, as well as a nation-level ecological tourist area. Besides, there are six 4A-level tourist sites and 19 A-level ones.
“Pingdingshan has been recognized as an excellent tourism city of the nation, and we have plenty of tourism resources,” said Zhang Guowei, mayor of Pingdingshan.
From January to August this year, these tourist sites
Pingdingshan has been recognized as an excellent tourism city ... and we have plenty of tourism resources.” Pingdingshan
received 21.2 million visitors in all, bringing in a revenue of 8.8 billion yuan ($1.3 billion). Currently, the tourism sector provides at least 100,000 jobs for the whole city, including those working in 3,000 local hotels and 49 travel agencies.
Besides tourism, Pingdingshan has also provided favorable policies for hightech companies, to make their industries greener. “Enterprises must improve their capability of innovation that also helps optimize the economic structure,” said Chen Run’er, governor ofHenan.
Pinggao Group, a branch of State Grid Corporation of China, the nation’s power giant, is one of the companies developing high technologies.
During a time whenChina still lacked a domesticallyproduced oil circuit breaker, Pinggao Group first introduced the technology for a SF6 circuit breaker and developed newtechnologies.
“We have at least six innovative technologies involving the circuit breaker, which broke the nation’s past dependency on foreign products,” said Zhang Li, a researcher at the group. “We will continue developing newtechnologies.”
The city invested 1.5 billion yuan onR&Dduring the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), and got 568 patents. Official data shows that the percentage of high-tech industries in the industrial sector increased by 9.8 percentage points from 2012 to 2016.