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Have a Strong Commitment to Socialist Ecological Civilization

By Li Ganjie

Secretary of Leading Party Members’ Group and Minister of Environmental Protection

The 19th National Congress of the CPC considers the harmonious coexistence of man and nature as an integral part of the basic policy to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, and highlights the importance to have a strong commitment to socialist ecological civilization and work to develop a new model of modernization with humans developing in harmony with nature. This is a major arrangement made by the CPC Central Committee to meet people’s ever-growing needs for a beautiful environment, to build China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful, and to achieve the sustainable development of the Chinese nation. It is of realistic and practical significance.

We should have a profound understanding of the rich implications of Socialist Ecological Civilization.

General Secretary Xi Jinping has reiterated the importance of building an ecological civilization and protecting the ecological environment on almost every occasion he has ever been since the 18th National Congress of the CPC. He has made a raft of important remarks, statements, and oral and written instructions, and come up with a myriad of new philosophies, ideas, and strategies in this area. He has provided insightful solutions to the questions as to why, what, and how do we develop ecological civilization. These have become the scientific, systematic, strategic major thoughts of General Secretary Xi Jinping on building an ecological civilization, embodied the socialist ecological civilization, and become an integral part of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

The profound historic outlook that the thriving and degradation of ecosystems decides the rise and fall of a civilization. Secretary General Xi Jinping stressed that building an ecological civilization is vital to sustain the Chinese nation's development. The ecological environment provides the basic condition for mankind’s survival and is the bedrock for its sustainable development. The histories of the civilizations in both China and elsewhere of the world suggest that the changes in the ecological environment have a direct impact on the rise and fall of a civilization. Therefore, we must uphold the basic State policy of conserving the resources and protecting the environment, and cherish the ecological environment the way we cherish our own lives. We must pursue a model of sustainable development featuring increased production, higher living standards, and healthy ecosystems. We must lay the foundation to sustain the development of the Chinese nation and leave behind a beautiful homeland for future generations with blue skies, green lands, and clean waters.

The scientific outlook on nature that man and nature form a community of life. General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed that man and nature form a community of life; we, as human beings, must respect nature, follow its ways, and protect it. Only by observing the laws of nature can mankind avoid costly blunders in its exploitation. Any harm we inflict on nature will eventually return to haunt us. This is a reality we have to face. We should give the building of an ecological civilization a more outstanding position in the whole landscape, act on the principles of prioritizing resource conservation and environmental protection and letting nature restore itself, and work to develop a new model of modernization with humans developing in harmony with nature.

The green development outlook that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets. General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed that, we must realize that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets and act on this very understanding, since it unveils the profound and essential relation between economic development and environmental protection, and indicates a methodology that renders the two to be inherently consistent, complementary, and coordinated. To protect the ecological environment is a process to preserve the value of the nature and increase the natural capitals, and to protect the economic and social development potentials. We must embrace the new development philosophies, properly handle the relation between economic development and environmental protection, work to develop green growth models and lifestyles, and strive to balance the socio-economic development and the ecological conservation.

The basic outlook on people’s wellbeing that healthy ecological environment is the most inclusive wellbeing of the people. General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed that the environment is a facet of people’s wellbeing, that lush mountains are beautiful scenery, and that blue skies are an element of happiness. With the notable improvements of the social productivity and people’s living standards, people develop diversified, multi-layered, and multi-facet needs and look forward to enjoying a more beautiful ecological environment. We must uphold the people-centered development philosophy, put up a good fight against pollution, and supply more quality ecological goods, in order to meet people’s ever-growing needs for a beautiful ecological environment and increase people’s senses of fulfillment, of happiness, and of security.

The outlook on a holistic system in which the mountain, water, forest, farmland, lake, and grassland ecosystems are managed systematically. General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed the importance to consider the mountain, water, forest, farmland, lake, and grassland ecosystems as a community of life. The ecological environment is a unified natural system, and a chain of nature in which all natural elements are interdependent and cycle. The lifeline of man is farmland; of farmland, water; of water, mountains; of mountains, soil; and of soil, trees and grasses. We must, based on the integrity and systematic nature of ecosystems, observe their inherent laws, take into consideration all natural and ecological elements in and beneath the mountains, above and under ground, on the land and in the ocean, and in the upper and lower reaches of watersheds, so as to exercise holistic protection, macro control, and comprehensive governance, improve the ecosystems’ capacity to cycle, and maintain the ecological balances.

The outlook on the rigorous rule of law that the most rigorous ecological and environmental protection institutions will be put in place. General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed that only the toughest institutions and the rigorous rule of law can provide reliable support for building an ecological civilization. We cannot cross any bottom line when it comes to the ecological and environmental protection, otherwise, punishment is in order. We must act on the principle of strictly preventing pollution at the source, exercising rigorous control throughout the process, and harshly punishing the consequences, and establish a systematic and integral framework of ecological civilization institutions which has well-defined property ownership, involves multiple stakeholders, and gives equal weight to incentives and disincentives. We must establish a legal system for ecological civilization which effectively curbs the development activities and promotes green development, circular development, and low-carbon development. We must leverage the guiding and regulatory roles of institutions and legislations to provide institutional and mechanism support for building an ecological civilization.

The outlook on the action by all, which calls for the entire society to be part of the efforts in the building of an ecological civilization. General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed that the building of an ecological civilization is of immediate interest to each and every one. Therefore, each of us should take a part in promoting the ecological progress. As a common welling shared by all, the beautiful ecological environment needs the collective development, protection, and governance by the whole society. We must enhance the communications and awareness on ecological civilization, raise the public awareness on environmental protection, work to develop lifestyles and consumption models that are thrift, moderate, green, low-carbon, culturally advanced, and healthy, develop a good environment for the whole society to take part in this effort, and render the whole nation to self-consciously contribute to the building of a beautiful country.

The win-win global outlook on a clean and beautiful world. General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed that mankind shares a common future and that it is the common aspiration of mankind to build a green homeland. The ecological and environmental crises have become global challenges that not a single country can be immune to. The international community should work together to weave an eco-friendly framework that respects nature and green development, seek a path to building an ecological civilization on a global scale, and protect the very planet that is homeland for mankind’s survival. Building an ecological civilization is a useful practice of China as the largest developing country in pursuing sustainable development; it offers China’s philosophies, solutions, and contributions to global environmental governance.

We should have a correct understanding of the decisions and plans on the socialist ecological civilization for a new era.

The report to the 19th National Congress of the CPC has wrapped up the previous efforts in and made plans for the building of the ecological civilization and the protection of the ecological environment, and come up with a raft of new reforms, philosophies, requirements, objectives, and plans, which serve as the fundamental rules and action guide for advancing the socialist ecological civilization for a new era and building a beautiful country.

We should have a correct understanding of the new reforms. “Notable progress has been made in the building of an ecological civilization” is one of China’s 10 causes where historical achievements have been made and milestone reforms have taken place over the past five years, according to the report. The building of an ecological civilization and the conservation of the ecological environment have been the most effective since the 18th National Congress, as can be demonstrated by the following five unprecedented changes: the ecological and environmental awareness has been deeper than ever, the devotion to pollution control has been unprecedentedly strong, the institutions have been introduced at a fast pace never seen before, the supervision and compliance inspection has been more rigorous than ever, and the environmental quality is being improved at an unprecedented high speed. All of this has paved the way for our path ahead and shored up our confidence.

We should have a correct understanding of the new philosophies. The report incorporates the “harmonious coexistence of man and nature” as an integral part of the fundamental policy to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era and expounds on it. In the meantime, the report presents new statements including that building an ecological civilization is vital to sustain the Chinese nation's development, and that we should nurse the nature back to serenity, peace, and beauty, and have a strong commitment to socialist ecological civilization. The statements embody General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important and strategic thoughts on building an ecological civilization.

We should have a correct understanding of the new requirements. The prominent contradiction between people’s ever-growing needs for a beautiful ecological environment and the undersupply of more quality ecological goods represents one of the new changes in the principal contradiction of the Chinese society. The modernization we are going for is one featuring the harmony between man and nature. We should create more material and cultural wealth to meet people's ever-increasing needs for a better life. We need also to provide more quality ecological goods to meet people's ever-growing demands for a beautiful environment. This is the fundamental and overarching requirement for building an ecological civilization and protecting the ecological environment nowadays and in the future.

We should have a correct understanding of the new objectives. By 2020, we will have made overall plans for promoting the economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progresses, taken a firm stand to implement the sustainable development strategy, especially put up a tough and good fight against pollution, and enabled the moderately prosperous society we have completed building to win the approval of the people and withstand the test of history. By 2035, the ecological environment will have been effectively improved, and the objective of building a beautiful China will have been basically met. By the middle of this century, we will have built China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful. And the material, political, cultural, social, and ecological progresses will have been comprehensively advanced. Those inspiring new objectives have given us new marching orders.

We should have a correct understanding of the new plans. The report outlined the future work in the building of an ecological civilization and the conservation of the ecological environment from four facets, that is, making advances with green development, sparing no effort to address prominent environmental problems, working harder at the protection of the ecosystems, and reforming the ecological environment regulatory regimes. The plans demand greater efforts, introduce tougher measures, and set higher requirements. They specify mandatory tasks and lay out institutional designs, and require both considering the whole picture and highlighting the key points. They will definitely have profound ramifications on our endeavors to improve the eco-environmental quality and develop a new model of modernization featured with the harmony between man and nature.

We will strive to open up new prospects for the building of socialist ecological civilization for a new era.

For now and for a period of time to come, we will fully implement the guiding principles of the 19th National Congress of the CPC, follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, have a strong commitment to the socialist ecological civilization, work to develop spatial layouts, industrial structures, and ways of work and life that help conserve resources and protect the environment, uplift ecological civilization, build a beautiful country, and create sound work and living environment for the people.

We will develop a system of science-based, moderate, and orderly layout of territorial space. We will work faster to establish systems for developing and protecting the territorial space, and design the work, living, and ecological spaces in a scientific manner. We will unswervingly implement the strategies on main functional areas. We will carry out major projects on the conservation and restoration of key ecosystems, and complete work on drawing redlines for protecting the ecosystems, designating permanent basic cropland, and delineating boundaries for urban development. We will promote afforestation, and optimize the ecological security barriers.

We will establish sound economic systems that pursue green, low-carbon and circular development. We will accelerate the industrial restructuring, take a firm stand to cut overcapacity, energetically develop advanced manufacturing industry, high-tech industry, and modern service industry, and actively enable the energy conservation and environmental protection industry to grow stronger. We will promote the full-scale conservation and recycling of resources, significantly cut down the energy and material consumption of key industries and enterprises, and realize the cycling and interconnectivity of the work and life systems. We will make headways with the revolution of energy production and consumption, take actions to downsize the coal consumption, steadily raise the share of wind power and other clean energy sources in energy consumption, and establish a clean, low-carbon, safe, and efficient energy system.

We will take comprehensive measures to tackle environmental pollution. We will continue to implement the air pollution control initiative, make sure the levels of all pollutants continue to drop and the number of the days with heavy air pollution to constantly decline, and resolutely win the fight for blue skies. We will make greater efforts to control water pollution and protect the water ecosystems, conduct the integrated environmental management of watersheds and near-shore seawaters, and provide more waterside landscapes for the people. We will make solid efforts in the clean soil initiatives, accelerate the detailed survey on the soil pollution, and strengthen the soil pollution regulation and restoration. We will take actions on the environmental management of the living environment in the countryside, intensify the control of non-point source pollution in the agricultural sector, and vigorously treat the “dirty, disorderly, and poor” environment in the rural areas.

We will deepen the reform on the ecological civilization institutions. We will reform the ecological environment regulatory systems, and establish sound environmental management systems. We will improve the environmental inspection mechanisms, and fully unfold the reforms for a vertical management framework for the environmental monitoring, inspection, and enforcement by the environmental protection branches below the provincial level. We will work faster to examine and issue pollution permits, separate the environmental monitoring from local environmental controls, and pilot the establishment of watershed environmental regulatory and compliance inspection agencies and trans-regional environmental protection institutions. We will strengthen the responsibilities of the polluters, and improve the systems of environmental credit rating, mandatory information disclosure, and hefty punishments. We will set up green finance system, move forward with the ecological and environmental management and protection by the civil sector, and introduce market-based and diversified ecological compensation mechanisms.

We will launch green initiatives across the nation. We will vigorously give play to the government’s leading role, improve the industry’s self-discipline mechanism, encourage the public participation, and shape a government-led, industry-dominated, and NGO- and public-involved environmental management system. We will engage in the communications and awareness raising activities on ecological and environmental protection, promote green administration, and build conservation-oriented governments. We will highlight the industry’s responsibilities as polluters, and make sure they meet the environmental standards, conduct self-monitoring and make public the monitoring data. We will advocate thrift, moderate, green, and low-carbon lifestyles, and launch initiatives to build green households, campuses, communities and adopt green commute. We will guide the ecological and environmental NGOs towards healthy and orderly development.

(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

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