Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong Publishes Article in Indian Mainstream Media

On November 14th, 2019, Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong published an article entitled "How China’s Mother-River is Experiencing a Nirvana" in Times of India. The full text is as follows:

“You come from the snow-capped mountains, the spring tide reveals your style; You rush to the East Sea, the torrents show your spirit...” In China, the Song of the Yangtze River, which depicts the majestic grace of the longest river in China, is known by all. The Yangtze River is a mother river of China. Over the millennia, rushing from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and pouring into the East China sea, it has nourished the underpinnings of Chinese civilization, and cultivated the national character of the Chinese nation.

However, due to over-exploitation in the process of rapid economic growth in recent decades, our mother river became seriously ill. The river is silted up and its water body polluted with garbage everywhere and the ecological balance broken. It is painful to even look at it.

President Xi Jinping highly values the protection and management of the Yangtze river and China’s other mother rivers. In 2016, he chaired a meeting in Chongqing city on the development of Yangtze River Economic Belt and highlighted the importance of "treating the illness of Yangtze river". In 2018, he visited cities along the Yangtze river and presided over a symposium in Wuhan, a major city on the Yangtze river, deliberating on advancing the Yangtze River Economic Belt and finding solutions to Yangtze river pollution.

President Xi pointed out that to cure the "illness of Yangtze river", we should follow the philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine, find the root causes and treat them systematically. The key is to restore the balance between promotion of grand strategies and major breakthroughs, coordinate ecological protection and resource development, synergize overall planning and long-term efforts, replacing old growth drivers with new ones and harmonize self-development and coordinated development.

After years of efforts, China has developed a set of effective measures for mother rivers’ governance. First, Update mindset. All stakeholders shall jointly protect the mother river basin rather than conduct excessive development. We should recognize that "lucid waters and lush mountains" are actually "mountains of gold and silver". A holistic approach toward ecological environmental protection and economic growth shall be adopted. Second, optimize top-level design. Incorporate the development of Yangtze River Economic Belt into the overall national strategy and align it with the overall development of the country. Third, establish an innovative mechanism to harmonize the guiding role of the central government, the overall responsibility of provincial governments and the implementation responsibilities of municipal and county governments. Fourth, apply a unified blueprint and focus on implementation. The source for river pollution lies in the bank and its root cause is industrialization. We should strictly enforce environmental protection laws and push the polluting enterprise to transform and upgrade.

Here is a case in point. It’s reported that a chemical company located close to the Yangtze river. Its industrial capacity ranks world top three and has been seriously polluting the river for years. The reason for that is the cost for violating environmental law has remained low. Following the new concept and policy, local environmental protection agency issued a fine of nearly $3.9 million on the company, the largest ever environmental fine in the Yangtze river basin. The company reflected on it and decided to invest $14 million in sophisticated pollution control equipments and upgraded its production line. Thus not only the age-old pollution issue was solved, the company transformed itself and upgraded its business with better economic benefits, a win-win scenario.

With personal input and leadership of President Xi Jinping, the ecological environment along the Yangtze river basin is improving remarkably. The area is seeing industries upgrading, waters turning cleaner and the harmony between man and river being restored. China has also applied targeted governance measures in the Yellow River area.

Recently I visited Ahmedabad and made a special tour of the Sabarmati river clean-up campaign. I saw the river with clean water and green trees and people enjoying the benefits of the water. The river bank where President Xi and Prime Minister Modi took a walk together in 2014 has became a beautiful leisure resort for local people. This shows that the Indian government also takes the management of Mother-Rivers like the Ganges seriously, and remarkable progress has been made in India's river management efforts.

Not long ago, the leaders of China and India held their second informal meeting in Chennai, providing strategic guidance for bilateral relations. The leaders stressed that China and India should learn from each other, “brighten up each other” and realize the great rejuvenation of the two great civilizations. This points to the direction of our future cooperation. Mother rivers are the cradle and important symbols of our respective civilizations. As large developing countries with huge populations and heavy development tasks, it is the common responsibility of China and India to protect their mother rivers. While implementing our leaders’ consensus, we shall actively explore and conduct exchanges of experiences and cooperation in the governance of the country and actively promote cooperation in people-to-people and cultural, science and technology, environmental protection etc and explore new frontiers of civilizational exchanges and cooperation, so that the two major oriental civilizations will assume new vigor and vitality.

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