Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday called for efforts to maintain strategic resolve in enhancing the building of an ecological civilization, warning against the tendency of sacrificing the environment for economic growth.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks when attending a panel discussion with his fellow deputies from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at the second session of the 13th National People’s Congress, China’s national legislature.
He urged the region not to sacrifice the environment for growth when encountering “just a little difficulty in economic development.”
As the Chinese economy evolves from high-speed growth to high-quality development, the country must spare no effort to prevent and fight against pollution and improve the environment, Xi stressed.
He called on Inner Mongolia to prioritize ecological protection and green development as it explores new ways of high-quality development. The beautiful scenery in China’s northern bordering areas must be protected, he added.
Protecting grasslands and forests are top priorities for the protection of the region’s ecosystems, Xi said. He also urged efforts for ecological improvement in Hulun Lake, Ulansuhai Nur (Wuliangsuhai) Wetland and Daihai Lake.
‘Tough battle’ against pollution
Tackling pollution is one of the “three tough battles” China is fighting to secure its goal of becoming a “moderately prosperous society in all respects” by 2020, the other two being the fight against risks and poverty.
The country spent around 255.5 billion yuan (38.1 billion U.S. dollars) in fighting against pollution in 2018, an increase of 13.9 percent year-on-year, according to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
In his government work report delivered to the annual legislative session on Tuesday, Li said clean energy has been widely promoted across the country and that the restoration of river and lake ecosystems is ongoing.
This year will see sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions cut by three percent, along with a continuous decline in PM2.5 density in key areas, he announced.