Chinese President Xi Jinping, also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, speaks at a meeting on environmental protection in Beijing on May 19 (XINHUA)
On May 19, a two-day national meeting on environmental protection was concluded in Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the meeting. An edited Xinhua News Agency report on his address follows:
Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the country will fight a strong battle against pollution and push the country's ecological civilization to the next level during a meeting on environmental protection which ended in Beijing on May 19.
China will push for coordination between economic and social development and ecological civilization, Xi, also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, said while addressing the two-day national conference.
Xi said that the country will channel more energy into promoting ecological civilization and resolving environmental problems, backed by the political advantages of the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC and the socialist system, as well as the achievements made during 40 years of reform and opening up.
Building an ecological civilization is of fundamental importance for the sustainable development of the Chinese nation, Xi said, noting that a great deal of work has been done since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012 to bring profound and historic changes in the realm of ecological and environmental protection.
China has begun conducting central environmental inspections, introduced guidelines to control air, water and soil pollution, published plans to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and is implementing a national plan to tackle climate change.
Despite overall improvement in China's ecological environment, Xi said that progress had not been consistent.
The building of an ecological civilization has entered a critical period, one that requires more quality ecological products to meet people's ever-growing demand for a beautiful environment and one in which China is capable of addressing prominent ecological and environmental issues, he said.
With the Chinese economy transitioning from high-speed growth to high-quality development, Xi said that there will be both conventional and unconventional challenges ahead. "We must grasp the nettle and overcome them," he said.
Xi said that ecology and environment are closely connected with people's wellbeing, urging for work to be done to meet the expectations of the public by stepping up the building of an ecological civilization and providing more quality ecological products.
Xi said that China must abide by several principles to push forward ecological civilization in a new era.
According to Xi, in ensuring harmony between humans and nature, China must stick to the policy of putting conservation and protection first, relying primarily on the natural recovery of the environment.
He said that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets and that China must pursue a vision of innovative, coordinated, green and open development that is for everyone, accelerate the formation of spatial patterns, industrial structures and modes of production and living that are resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly, and provide time and space for the natural environment to rehabilitate.
A sound ecological environment is the most beneficial to people's wellbeing, Xi said, while priority should be given to addressing prominent environmental problems that are harmful to people's health in order to keep up with people's ever-growing needs for a better environment.
Mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes, and grasslands are a life community. The building of an ecological civilization must take all factors into consideration through comprehensive plans and manifold measures.
Protecting the environment requires the best institutional arrangements and the strictest rule of law. Institutional innovations must be accelerated and enforcement of laws and regulations must be strengthened, Xi said.
Working together on the construction of a global ecological civilization and becoming deeply involved in global environmental governance are crucial to finding a worldwide solution to environmental protection and sustainable development, as is guiding international cooperation in tackling climate change, he said.
During his speech, Xi stressed that China should accelerate the construction of an ecological civilization and foster an ecological culture that values the environment.
The nation must speed up the construction of an ecological civilization, to ensure that by 2035, there will be significant improvement in the quality of the environment, and the goal of building a beautiful China will be fundamentally attained.
Xi called for comprehensive efforts to promote green development: not only an inevitable requirement to develop a modernized, high-quality economy, but also a fundamental solution to pollution.
Key emphases of the work, he said, will be adjusting economic and energy structures, optimizing the layout and development of territorial space, improving the industrial layout in different regions and river valleys, fostering and expanding industries concerning energy conservation, environmental protection, clean production and clean energy, and encouraging simple, green and low-carbon ways of living.
He said that prominent environmental problems will be tackled first as they concern people's wellbeing.
The top priority is winning the battle against air pollution to return blue skies to the people, Xi said, calling for concerted efforts to eliminate heavy pollution days.
Additionally, an action plan for the prevention and control of water pollution must be advanced to ensure the safety of drinking water, so that black and malodorous water is rarely seen in cities.
Comprehensive efforts must be taken to implement a plan of action for the prevention and control of soil pollution, while key regions, sectors and pollutants will be targeted and the restoration of polluted soil intensified so that people can have peace of mind about the food they eat and the place in which they live.
Consistent efforts will be made to improve rural living environments and preserve beautiful idyllic scenery in Chinese villages.
Xi called for the effective prevention of ecological and environmental risks, as ecological and environmental security is an important part of national security, as well as an important guarantee to achieving the sustainable and healthy development of the Chinese economy and society.
Ecological risk management is to be a regular practice, while a comprehensive and multi-level risk prevention system shall be put into place, he said.
Xi urged the improvement of environmental governance, saying that China will make full use of market means, improve resources and environmental pricing mechanisms, and strengthen support for public-private partnership projects.
Technological research will receive more support, and the study of countermeasures for major ecological and environmental issues will be initiated.
China will also push forward the establishment of a fair, reasonable and win-win system of global climate governance in promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
Xi stressed the importance of strengthening the Party's leadership over the urgent and tough battle against pollution.
The major leaders of local Party committees and governments will be held responsible for environmental protection in their own administrative regions, Xi said. A methodical and reasonable system of evaluation will be established to assess the performance of officials, and those damaging the environment will be held accountable.
Copyedited by Laurence Coulton
Comments to email@example.com