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President rules out major Yangtze projects

Updated: 2016-01-27 05:13
(China Daily)

No more large development projects will be launched along the Yangtze River, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday at a top-level meeting to finalize guidelines for the economic belt along China’s longest river.

All economic activity along the Yangtze must not result in harm or risk to the environment, Xi told the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs.

With major exploitation no longer allowed, all government departments have been told to comprehensively protect environmental quality in the Yangtze Valley.

The environmental quality of the Yangtze “can only allowed to become better, and can never be allowed to deteriorate”, Xi said in his first public statement about the river’s environmental challenges after his inspection tour of the riverside city of Chongqing earlier this month.

The president’s comments set the tone for the government’s policy on using and protecting the 6,300-kilometer-long waterway, according to many Chinese online commentators.

In 1988, China built a 47-meter-high dam on the Yangtze for the Gezhouba hydropower project, and built the 185-meter-high Three Gorges Dam in 2006 for a large hydropower project. Both dams are on the middle reaches of the river.

But last year, another hydropower project, named Xiao Nan Hai, was abandoned by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

In 2015, the central government first raised the idea of connecting all the riverside provinces, cities and development zones into a more integrated Yangtze River Economic Belt to share resources and facilities.

The Yangtze is the third-longest river in the world, but the longest to flow entirely within one country.

It runs from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau across China before reaching the sea at Shanghai, covering an area representing 40 percent of the nation’s population and GDP.

At Tuesday’s meeting, top-level decisions were also made on promoting forestry development and on implementing the strategy of supply-side reform to phase out uncompetitive industries.

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