Building a beautiful China

Date: 2017-September-11Writer: Wu GuangqiangShare:

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On the morning of Aug. 5, the day after Typhoon Hato had finally died away, I pushed open the window to look outside at the sky, only to be fascinated by the sight.

After a thorough washing, the azure sky was clear and translucent, glittering with the morning sunshine like a massive blue velvet canvas embroidered with fluffy white clouds.

The splendid view reminded me of the deepest impression I got after I had visited the U.S., European countries and Russia in the previous years: the blue skies and white clouds as a daily scene. I wished that we would have the same environment.

Like most people around me, I’ve noticed that over the past few years Shenzhen citizens have enjoyed increasing days of clean air and blue skies, but that day was the first time when I realized that Shenzhen’s blue skies and white clouds can rival those of Europe now.

Excited, I took a few photos of the beautiful view and shared them with my friends all over the nation and won their applause and envy.

Citizens of Shenzhen are indeed lucky that they can have fun outdoors while millions of their compatriots in many other cities, especially in North China, have to wear thick masks to fend off the smog.

Statistics also illustrate Shenzhen’s impressive achievements in pollution control and environmental conservation.

Shenzhen has ranked first for several successive years in terms of air quality among China’s 20 cities with the highest GDP. The annual number of days of ash haze dropped to 27 days in 2016 from 187 days, the highest record, in 2007.

Given the fact that Shenzhen’s GDP in 2016 was 11 times that of 1998, the number of motor vehicles four times and the population doubled, this achievement is indeed impressive.

The feat isn’t windfall. Two decades of rapid economic growth also left Shenzhen plagued with severe air pollution. In 2004, a good half year saw the city shrouded in hazy smog. In 2008, a total of 191,000 tons of VOC was emitted in Shenzhen.

The consensus that the pursuit of a higher GDP at the expense of the natural environment was undesirable prompted the Shenzhen government to take proactive and effective measures to address the issue of air pollution.

Factories constituting the main source of waste gas emissions were either moved out of the city or went through technical upgrades to eliminate pollution. One example was the change of the Nanshan Power Plant.

On the afternoon of Aug. 14, 2007, residents in Nanshan District were astonished to see a shower of black rain; one young man initially complained of the poor quality of his black umbrella after he found himself dyed black all over. Later it was confirmed that the culprit was the power plant at the tip of the Nantou Peninsula that burnt on heavy oil and emitted large quantities of sulfide into the air.

The incident led to the plant’s change of fuel from heavy oil to more eco-friendly natural gas, hence greatly improving the air quality.

To reduce more exhaust emissions, Shenzhen has replaced half of the city’s diesel-burning buses with e-buses and is planning to do away with the remaining half within this year.

Shenzhen’s success serves as a telling example that it is possible to maintain sustainable economic growth without sacrificing the natural environment.

If Shenzhen can do it, so can the rest of China, as long as governments at various levels resolutely carry out the policy of Building a Beautiful China with the emphasis on the green, low-carbon and cyclic development put forward at the 18th National Congress of CPC in 2013.

Recently, President Xi Jinping spoke highly of the outstanding contribution of the foresters at Saihanba Forest Farm. Saihanba is now a vast forest covering nearly 75,000 hectares, but it was a piece of barren land 55 years ago.

The efforts by three generations of experts and workers have turned it into the largest man-made forest park in the world and an important ecological shield for Beijing and Tianjin.

As the proverb goes: Many a little makes a mickle.

(The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

Editor: Jane Chen