This aerial photo taken on March 20, 2023 shows the scenery at the Laoniuwan section of the Yellow River in Jungar Banner, Erdos, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Peng Yuan)
The ecological conservation and high-quality development in the Yellow River basin is a major strategic decision made by the Communist Party of China(CPC) Central Committee for the sustainable development of the Chinese nation and the Chinese civilization.
— Xi Jinping made the remarks while hearing a report on the work of the CPC Shaanxi Provincial Committee and the provincial government, May 17, 2023
Xi and the Yellow River
Over the past few years, Xi Jinping has visited all nine provinces and autonomous regions along the Yellow River. An often-used word by Xi in these inspections is "protection."
"The Yellow River is our mother river, and conservation is the precondition. We must make unremitting efforts to protect it," said Xi during an inspection visit to the estuary of the Yellow River in east China's Shandong Province in October 2021.
"The protection of the Yellow River is critical to the great rejuvenation and sustainable development of the Chinese nation," said Xi while chairing a symposium during his inspection tour to Henan Province in September, 2019.
About the Yellow River
The Yellow River, the "mother river" of the Chinese nation, is the second-longest river in China, spanning 5,464 kilometers.
The river supplies water to 12 percent of China's population in more than 50 cities and irrigates 17 percent of the country's arable land.
The Yellow River basin had been the cradle of political, economic, and cultural centers of the country for 3,000 years in the 5,000-year history of the Chinese civilization.
Since ancient times, Chinese people have struggled against the flooding of the Yellow River, and conservation of the river has always been high on the country's agenda.
Protection of the "mother river"
The Yellow River basin has seen great improvement in the ecological environment after continuous conservation efforts.
● The area of soil erosion in the Yellow River basin decreased by 48 percent in 2020, compared with 1990, and that of intense soil erosion was reduced by 83 percent.
● The Yellow River basin's soil and water conservation rate increased from 41.49 percent in 1990 to 66.94 percent in 2020, and then to 67.37 percent in 2021.
● The number of bird species in the Yellow River delta national nature reserve has almost doubled from 187 in 1992 to over 370 today.
● In the Yellow River basin, the proportion of surface water rated at grade I to III in the country's five-tier water quality system reached 87.5 percent in 2022, an increase of 5.6 percentage points from a year earlier.
● The two large lakes -- Gyaring and Ngoring -- in the Yellow River's headwaters region, saw their surface areas increase by 74.6 and 117.4 square km respectively from 2015.
The Yellow River Protection Law came into effect in April 2023. As China's second piece of legislation on a specific river basin after the Yangtze River Protection Law, the new law targets key problems of the Yellow River basin, including water shortages, ecological fragility and flooding. The law will strengthen legal protection for the ecological conservation and high-quality development of the Yellow River basin.
What to do in the future
● China will continue to pursue a green development path featuring harmony between humanity and nature.
According to the report to the CPC's 20th National Congress, the country will make concerted efforts to improve aquatic environments, water resources and aquatic ecosystems, strengthen the ecological conservation of major rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and generally eliminate black, malodorous water bodies in cities.
● China has released a plan for the preservation of aquatic ecosystems in the country's major river basins.
The country aims to see a continued decline in its total discharge of main water pollutants by 2025, along with the persistent improvement of its aquatic ecosystems.