Green De­vel­op­ment: Eco­log­i­cal Gov­er­nance with Chi­nese ese Char­ac­ter­is­tics

Eco­log­i­cal Gov­er­nance with Chi­nese Char­ac­ter­is­tics

China Pictorial (English) - - Contents - Text by Zhai Yong

A se­cure and sta­ble ecosys­tem is the most fun­da­men­tal pre­req­ui­site for the sur­vival and de­vel­op­ment of any coun­try.

Ecosys­tem: Bedrock of Hu­man De­vel­op­ment

On the sur­face, a coun­try’s ecosys­tem is sim­i­lar to a per­son’s phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance or health, demon­strat­ing mor­phol­ogy. But in na­ture, it de­ter­mines the foun­da­tion and con­di­tions in­flu­enc­ing the coun­try’s sur­vival and de­vel­op­ment. Since the be­gin­ning of hu­man civ­i­liza­tion, pro­duc­tion pat­terns and life­styles of hu­mankind have un­der­gone tremen­dous changes. How­ever, one thing re­mains con­stant: Nat­u­ral re­sources have al­ways been an in­dis­pens­able foun­da­tion and guar­an­tee for hu­man sur­vival and de­vel­op­ment. All nat­u­ral re­sources are de­rived from the nat­u­ral ecosys­tem. If the planet’s ecosys­tem suf­fers struc­tural and fun­da­men­tal dam­age, the nat­u­ral re­sources it pro­vides will be­come un­avail­able as well.

In China’s long his­tory, the col­lapse of some king­doms or tribes bes was di­rectly at­trib­uted to eco­log­i­cal al degra­da­tion. China is the most pop­u­lous coun­try in the world. If its ecosys­tem suf­fers con­sid­er­able dam­age, the wa­ter, soil, air and wildlife dlife re­sources sus­tain­ing the coun­try’s 1.4

bil­lion peo­ple would fall into short­age or even crises, even­tu­ally re­sult­ing in chaos, tur­bu­lence and even col­lapse of the na­tion. Na­tional de­vel­op­ment will then be­come empty talk.

A se­cure and sta­ble ecosys­tem is the most fun­da­men­tal pre­req­ui­site for the sur­vival and de­vel­op­ment of any coun­try. Na­ture may be able to re­cover from an eco­log­i­cal catas­tro­phe, but the ma­jor­ity of liv­ing be­ings that de­pend on the ecosys­tem, es­pe­cially hu­mankind, can eas­ily go ex­tinct.

For this rea­son, the Chi­nese govern­ment ad­heres to the prin­ci­ple of re­spect­ing, pro­tect­ing and adapt­ing to na­ture these days. Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has for­mu­lated a five-sphere in­te­grated plan in which eco­log­i­cal progress is embed­ded in the wider process of po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic, cul­tural and so­cial de­vel­op­ment. Pres­i­dent Xi also calls for pro­tect­ing the eco­log­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment “like pro­tect­ing our eyes,” tes­ti­fy­ing to the Chi­nese leader’s wis­dom and vi­sion on green de­vel­op­ment.

Eco­log­i­cal Progress: Road for China’s Fu­ture

Pres­i­dent Xi calls for build­ing a so­ci­ety of eco­log­i­cal progress, which rep­re­sents an up­grade of the con­cept of en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion based on ideas on the re­la­tions between man and na­ture from a philo­soph­i­cal and ra­tio­nal per­spec­tive.

By re­view­ing hu­man his­tory, it is clear that evo­lu­tion to­wards civ­i­liza­tion was driven by un­civ­i­lized re­al­i­ties. The rea­son for mak­ing eco­log­i­cal progress is at­trib­uted to mankind’s “un­civ­i­lized” treat­ment of na­ture. In the early days of hu­man his­tory, mankind uti­lized na­ture in ways that con­formed to the op­er­a­tional law of the ecosys­tem or at least didn’t se­verely hurt the nat­u­ral ecosys­tem. Along with the en­hance­ment of hu­mans’ ca­pac­ity to ex­plore na­ture, hu­man so­ci­ety en­tered a pe­riod of “in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion” be­fore fully un­der­stand­ing the nat­u­ral ecosys­tem, dur­ing which the mass pro­duc­tion of ma­chines, equip­ment and power

re­sulted in de­struc­tive uti­liza­tion and ex­ploita­tion of na­ture. More­over, the in­tro­duc­tion of the con­cept of “cap­i­tal” fur­ther fu­eled hu­mankind’s “un­civ­i­lized” ex­ploita­tion and uti­liza­tion of na­ture.

A key strat­egy of China’s re­form and open­ing up was to in­tro­duce West­ern pro­duc­tion modes fea­tur­ing in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion. Con­se­quently, such pro­duc­tion modes mo­ti­vated man­u­fac­tur­ers to use fos­sil en­ergy and all tools and means made avail­able by “in­dus­trial civ­i­liza­tion” to carry out large-scale ex­ploita­tion of min­er­als, land, seas and other nat­u­ral re­sources, re­sult­ing in de­struc­tive scars on the en­vi­ron­ment.

In its early days of in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion, China had less aware­ness and ca­pac­ity to con­strain large-scale ex­ploita­tion ac­tiv­i­ties. Just as China was start­ing to de­velop heavy in­dus­try, West­ern coun­tries were be­com­ing aware of the eco­log­i­cal calami­ties aris­ing from the first and sec­ond in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tions and be­gan to in­creas­ingly en­hance their abil­ity to mit­i­gate en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion via tech­no­log­i­cal and leg­isla­tive means, fos­ter­ing new pro­duc­tion pat­terns and life­styles. They be­gan to trans­fer their low-end, back­ward and pol­lut­ing in­dus­tries to devel­op­ing coun­tries, re­sult­ing in the shift of en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion and eco­log­i­cal degra­da­tion. The nat­u­ral ecosys­tems of devel­oped coun­tries have been in­creas­ingly re­stored, en­abling them to re­gain blue skies, clear rivers and dense forests. How­ever, they have done lit­tle to help devel­op­ing coun­tries im­prove their ca­pac­ity to pre­vent pol­lu­tion.

Now fac­ing se­vere pol­lu­tion, Chi­nese peo­ple as­pire for clean wa­ter re­sources, fresh air, safe food and a healthy ecosys­tem. For China, one of the most ur­gent tasks is to prop­erly treat na­ture and shift into a health­ier lane of de­vel­op­ment. China should no longer cling to tra­di­tional pro­duc­tion modes that rely on fos­sil en­ergy and min­eral re­sources, but seek ad­just­ment and trans­for­ma­tion of its de­vel­op­ment pat­tern.

Achiev­ing this goal re­quires both con­scious ef­forts and ob­jec­tive guar­an­tees. Pro­mot­ing eco­log­i­cal progress is to guide peo­ple to change nge their pro­duc­tion modes and life­styles and take a road to­wards green en de­vel­op­ment.

So far, China has adopted mea­sures ures to re­place fos­sil en­ergy and min­eral re­sources with green en­ergy like hy­dropower, bio-power, so­lar power, wind d power and nu­clear power in in­dus­trial ial pro­duc­tion and so­cial de­vel­op­ment. As a re­sult, a num­ber of new tech­nolo­gies gies and green in­dus­tries have emerged.

First and fore­most, pro­mot­ing eco­log­i­cal progress re­quires trans­for ma­tion of de­vel­op­ment modes. The e cur­rent re­al­ity is that coal re­mains the pri­mary en­ergy source in China’s s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Thanks to the spread of the “eco­log­i­cal progress” con­cept, China has made re­mark­able le achieve­ments in clean uti­liza­tion of coal. Eco­log­i­cal progress also in­volves ves eco­log­i­cal, re­source, marine, en­ergy and pol­lu­tion con­trol strate­gies, which are re all in­ter­con­nected yet in­de­pen­dent of each other, and each has a com­pre­hen­sive e and fun­da­men­tal in­flu­ence on na­tional nal de­vel­op­ment. Devel­oped coun­tries be­gan to adopt marine, re­source and d pol­lu­tion con­trol strate­gies long ago, o, and have formed a com­plete le­gal sys­tem that has be­come the de­facto global obal norm. Even dur­ing West­ern colo­nial al as ex­pan­sion, an eco­log­i­cal strat­egy was adopted along­side in­creas­ing en­vi­ron­n­men­tal aware­ness. Rel­e­vant ev­i­dence e can be found in Eco­log­i­cal im­pe­ri­al­ism by Amer­i­can scholar Al­fred W. Crosby. sby. Later, es­pe­cially after the 1950s, en­ergy rgy strat­egy was widely adopted by West­ern tern devel­oped coun­tries, which for­mu­lated ated and en­acted a se­ries of laws to sup­port port its im­ple­men­ta­tion.

In the past, devel­oped coun­tries es pro­moted their re­source, eco­log­i­cal, al, marine and en­ergy strate­gies through ugh zero-sum games or even armed

con­flicts. In sharp con­trast, Pres­i­dent Xi aims at mak­ing China’s eco­log­i­cal progress rooted in “in­no­va­tive, co­or­di­nated, green, open and shared de­vel­op­ment.” China op­poses con­flicts and ad­vo­cates co­op­er­a­tion, har­mony, co­or­di­na­tion and mu­tual ben­e­fits.

Le­gal De­vel­op­ment Based on Ac­tual Con­di­tions

In re­cent years, China has at­tached great im­por­tance to build­ing and im­prov­ing the le­gal sys­tem con­cern­ing eco­log­i­cal progress. Pres­i­dent Xi has made many im­por­tant in­struc­tions on spe­cific laws re­lated to eco­log­i­cal progress. He pointed out that pro­mot­ing eco­log­i­cal progress de­mands a rev­o­lu­tion­ary re­form of pro­duc­tion modes, life­styles, ways of think­ing, and val­ues, which can only be ac­com­plished by in­sti­tu­tional evo­lu­tion and rule of law. He also stressed that China should “im­ple­ment the strictest en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion sys­tem.” He also urged en­hanced pro­tec­tion of wild an­i­mals by strength­en­ing leg­is­la­tion and law en­force­ment to bet­ter pro­tect the ecosys­tem and peo­ple’s phys­i­cal and men­tal health, foster bet­ter so­cial mores and main­tain a good in­ter­na­tional im­age of Chi­nese peo­ple. At two ses­sions of the Nu­clear Se­cu­rity Sum­mit he em­pha­sized twice the im­por­tance of for­mu­lat­ing a nu­clear se­cu­rity law. Xi also made sev­eral im­por­tant in­struc­tions on the for­mu­la­tion of laws on soil pol­lu­tion pre­ven­tion and con­trol.

Over the past few years, China has made great achieve­ments in build­ing a le­gal sys­tem cov­er­ing eco­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion as fol­lows:

First, ac­cel­er­ated law-mak­ing. Since 2012, the pro­por­tion of draft laws re­lated to eco­log­i­cal progress has in­creased in the leg­is­la­tion plan of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress (NPC), China’s top leg­is­la­ture. Draft eco­log­i­cal laws ac­counted for over 18 per­cent of all laws to be de­lib­er­ated by the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the 12th NPC, the high­est per­cent­age in its his­tory. Some draft laws on eco­log­i­cal progress will be in­cluded in the leg­is­la­tion plan of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the 13th NPC. How­ever, China is still way be­hind some devel­oped coun­tries in en­vi­ron­men­tal leg­is­la­tion.

Sec­ond, a tran­si­tion from con­cept-ori­ented to prob­lem-ori­ented. Pre­vi­ously, China’s en­vi­ron­men­tal leg­is­la­tion was strongly in­flu­enced by for­eign leg­is­la­tion, and some new con­cepts and modes were in­tro­duced to China from over­seas. Since these laws might not con­form to China’s re­al­i­ties, their en­force­ment was not ef­fec­tive. In re­cent years, the NPC Stand­ing Com­mit­tee has for­mu­lated and re­vised some laws based on the coun­try’s re­al­i­ties and needs, which have played im­por­tant roles in pro­mot­ing China’s eco­log­i­cal progress.

Third, after fur­ther im­prov­ing laws on pol­lu­tion pre­ven­tion and con­trol, China has be­gun to pay at­ten­tion to for­mu­lat­ing laws aim­ing to strengthen eco­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion and en­hance re­source uti­liza­tion ef­fi­ciency. For in­stance, the NPC Stand­ing Com­mit­tee has de­lib­er­ated twice on the soil pol­lu­tion pre­ven­tion and con­trol law (which is ex­pected to be ap­proved after the third de­lib­er­a­tion this year) and re­vised the wildlife pro­tec­tion law by adding con­tent about pro­tect­ing bio­di­ver­sity, ge­netic re­sources and wildlife habi­tats. It also amended the marine en­vi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion law and for­mu­lated the Law on the Ex­plo­ration and de­vel­op­ment of Re­sources in deep sea bed ar­eas to strengthen con­ser­va­tion of the marine ecosys­tem. More­over, rel­e­vant com­mis­sions of the NPC launched a fea­si­bil­ity study on the for­mu­la­tion of the law on in­te­grated re­source uti­liza­tion in a bid to en­hance re­sources uti­liza­tion ef­fi­ciency and es­tab­lish norms and rules that cover the full life cy­cle of re­source uti­liza­tion from raw ma­te­ri­als, pro­duc­tion, sales and con­sump­tion to waste re­cy­cling.

Fourth, China is wit­ness­ing a shift from as­sim­i­la­tion with in­ter­na­tional laws to par­tic­i­pa­tion in the for­mu­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional rules. In the past, when China rat­i­fied or joined an in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tion, it placed greater em­pha­sis on align­ing it­self with ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tions of the con­ven­tion. In most cases, how­ever, devel­oped coun­tries seek to ad­just in­ter­na­tional treaties and con­ven­tions be­fore join­ing by amend­ing or for­mu­lat­ing rel­e­vant do­mes­tic laws. By so do­ing, these coun­tries in­ter­na­tion­al­ize their do­mes­tic laws to bet­ter safe­guard their na­tional in­ter­ests. In this con­text, the NPC Stand­ing Com­mit­tee has ac­cel­er­ated its pace in for­mu­lat­ing rel­e­vant do­mes­tic laws ac­cord­ing to the in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions China has rat­i­fied such as the Law on the ex­plo­ration and de­vel­op­ment of Re­sources in Deep sea bed ar­eas and the nu­clear se­cu­rity law.

July 10, 2018: Work­ers clean a wa­ter­course near Shengzhimiao Har­bor in Taihu Sub-dis­trict, Changx­ing County, Zhe­jiang Prov­ince. Taihu Sub-dis­trict has in­tro­duced a river ecop­u­rifi­ca­tion sys­tem, which helps form a com­plete aquatic ecosys­tem, re­store the con­cen­tra­tion of oxy­gen dis­solved in wa­ter and en­hance the self-purification ca­pac­ity of rivers and lakes, pro­duc­ing ob­vi­ous re­sults in eco­log­i­cal restora­tion. VCG

An aerial view of the Wu­meng Canyon in Guizhou Prov­ince, July 20, 2017. VCG

July 4, 2018: An emer­gency marine pol­lu­tion con­trol ex­er­cise is held in Sanya Bay of Sanya City, Hainan Prov­ince. Over 100 staffers, 12 ves­sels and a sea­plane from Sanya Mar­itime Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Sanya Emer­gency Man­age­ment Of­fice and other de­part­ments par­tic­i­pated in the ex­er­cise. This was the first emer­gency marine pol­lu­tion con­trol ex­er­cise or­ga­nized by Sanya City in­volv­ing three dif­fer­ent types of ves­sels. VCG

May 31, 2018: A bird lands on the Moshui River in Qing­dao, Shan­dong Prov­ince. After years of com­pre­hen­sive ren­o­va­tion, the Moshui River fea­tures re­stored land­scapes, clear wa­ter and lush banks, and has be­gun in­te­grat­ing func­tions such as flood con­trol, eco­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion, sight­see­ing and recre­ation. VCG

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