China has made great strides in reclaiming and safeguarding crucial habitats, Hou Liqiang reports.
The area of the Yellow River Wetland Park in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui autonomous region, was once a place local residents avoided: raw sewage from nearby drains caused foul smells and there was almost no grass on the saline-alkaline land.
Now, the park is not only a hot destination for locals to take a stroll, but also attracts many migratory birds seeking shelter during their travels.
As secretary-general of Ningxia's bird observation association, Li Zhijun is keenly aware of the changes in the park. Together with some other wetland areas along the Yellow River in Ningxia, it has become a famous spot for bird photographers, he said, adding that more suitable habitats for migratory birds are emerging as the environment improves and the wetland coverage expands.
The Yinchuan wetland park is just a microcosm of the achievements China has made in wetland conservation in recent decades, thanks to the importance the central authorities attached to the issue.
During a 2020 inspection tour in Zhejiang province, President Xi Jinping visited the Xixi National Wetland Park — the country's first such facility — in Hangzhou, the provincial capital. He stressed the importance of protecting wetland ecology and the aquatic environment.
In addition to ordering measures to make the park a green space, Xi said tourism development should not take place at the expense of the ecological environment. The same year, he visited a wetland at Dianchi Lake in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, to view protection work on the lake and antipollution measures.
In his report to the opening session of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Oct 16, Xi said China's modernization features a huge population, common prosperity for all, material and cultural-ethical advancement, harmony between humanity and nature, and peaceful development.
"Respecting, adapting to and protecting nature is essential to building China into a modern socialist country in all respects. We must remember to maintain harmony between humanity and nature when planning our development," he said.