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Development

Zhu Rongji on Ecological Shield, Development of Ethnic Minorities Areas

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 01/06/14; June 14, 2001.]

Beijing Xinhua Domestic Service in Chinese 1100 GMT 12 Jun 01.
[By reporters Sun Jie and Chu Xuejun]

Chengdu, 12 Jun (Xinhua) -- During a recent inspection tour of Sichuan, Zhu Rongji, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and premier of the State Council, pointed out that the implementation of the project to protect natural forests and the experiments on returning farmland land to forests at selected points have progressed smoothly and remarkable results have been obtained. In particular, this has further speeded up the economic development of areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups.

Facts have proved that the policy-decisions made, and measures taken, by the party Central Committee and the State Council in this respect are completely correct. It is necessary to seriously sum up experience, improve ways of implementation, strictly follow standards, emphasize quality and make unremitting efforts to promote this great cause to benefit future generations for a thousand years to come.

From 8 to 12 June, Premier Zhu Rongji, accompanied by Zhou Yongkang, secretary of the Sichuan Provincial CPC Committee, and Zhang Zhongwei, governor, conducted investigation and study on improving the ecological environment and speeding up the development of areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups. Zhu Rongji and his entourage traveled by car over 680 km along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, crossed the Erlang Shan, followed the Dadu He up the north, and climbed mountains on the plateau in the northwestern part of Sichuan.

He inspected one after another the Yaan Bifengxia Ecological Protection Zone, Zishi Township and Lianglu Township of Tianquan County and Xinxing Village of Yala Township of Kangding County, which have been selected for experiments on returning farmland to forests, and the Lengzhuguan Power Station, visited families of peasants of the Zang ethnic group, and asked in details about the production and the people's livelihood after farmland was returned to forests. Zhu Rongji also went to Luding Bridge, where he laid a wreath at the monument to commemorate the Red Armymen who forced the Dadu He. During his inspection tour, Zhu Rongji listened to reports made by the Sichuan Provincial CPC Committee and the Sichuan Provincial Government and fully affirmed Sichuan's achievements in all aspects of work in recent years.

Since 1998, Sichuan has made remarkable achievements in implementing the project to protect natural forests and making experiments on returning farmland to forests and Sichuan is among provinces that started such work first in accordance with arrangements made by the party Central Committee and the State Council. Lumbering zones in natural forests have become protection zones and lumberjacks have become tree-growers and forest rangers. Various cities and counties in forest areas have actively readjusted their production structure and are shifting from a "lumber finance" to an ecological economy.

In making experiments on returning farmland to forests, the province has endeavored to implement central policies, follow the requirements of "returning farmland to forests (grassland), closing hillsides to facilitate afforestation, providing relief with grain and contracting out work to individuals," proceed from reality, give specific guidance according to the geographical and climatic characteristics of different places across the province, and actively explore different forms of organizations, including "company + peasant households" with the prerequisite of respecting the peasants' will.

At present, trees and grass are growing on all slopes that used to be farmland and they are growing very well. Vegetation has revived. In some places, "trees are grown on slopes while grain is grown along rivers" and soil erosion has evidently been put under control. The project to protect natural forests and to return farmland to forests have won the full support of the broad masses of the people and cadres, who have praised them as projects that will help them become rich and will benefit future generations.

Zhu Rongji spoke highly of Sichuan's achievements in protecting natural forests and experiments on returning farmland to forests. He said that party committees and governments at all levels in Sichuan have seriously implemented a series of central principles and policies to strengthen the protection and improvement of the ecological environment, taken the lead in launching the project to protect natural forests and making experiments on returning farmland to forests, taken prompt actions with a resolute attitude, done solid work and adopted effective measures. They have enabled the people to consciously implement the party's policies, accumulated much successful experience, and attained remarkable achievements. He hoped Sichuan will make persistent efforts to construct an ecological protectiveshield on the upper reach of the Chang Jiang and make contribution to the long-term development of the Chang Jiang valley and the Chinese nation.

Zhu Rongji pointed out that Sichuan's experience shows it is necessary to adhere to the following points in order to do a good job in returning farmland to forests. First, it is necessary to seek unity of thinking and earnestly practice what one advocates. The protection and improvement of the ecological environment is the foundation of rejuvenation, the basis of prosperity of the province, and a policy for making the people prosperous and it is of far-reaching significance. Principal leading cadres must grasp work in this respect personally, leading cadres assigned to take charge of specific work in this respect must grasp the work in a concrete manner, and cadres at all levels must jointly grasp work in this respect.

Second, it is necessary to implement relevant policies to win the people's confidence. It is necessary to fully implement policies and measures to return farmland to forests, ensure grain, cash and saplings subsidized by the state are handed out to the peasants, and seriously implement policies concerning self-employed businessmen's contracts.

Third, it is necessary to do meticulous work in a down-to-earth manner. The words "rice subsidized for returning farmland to forests" are printed on bags for rice given to peasants as subsidy for returning farmland to forests in Sichuan Province and grain stations ensure good quality of the rice and unimpeded transportation of the rice. Peasants in mountain areas held the rice in both hands and said with tears in their eyes: If we do not properly plant trees, we shall let the country down. In this way, central policies have struck deeper roots in the hearts of the people and this practice should be spread to all parts of the country.

Four, it is necessary to provide technical support and use more technology. It is necessary to provide the peasants with quality saplings and grass seed, organize technicians to give guidance, run various kinds of training sessions, and do a good job in running demonstration centers so that technical measures are adopted by each peasant household.

Fifth, it is necessary to obtain actual results and have our eyes on the future. It is necessary to properly handle the relationship between the livelihood of peasants who have return their farmland to forests and their prosperity in the future. It is necessary to make great efforts to develop small hydropower stations and to use marsh gas to generate electricity in order to solve the problem of fuel for peasants in the rural areas. It is necessary to closely integrate the return of farmland to forests with the readjustment of the production structure. In short, it is necessary to ensure the implementation of the central policy of returning farmland to forests, ensure such policy will not be shaken or abandoned, and ensure such policy will lead to prosperity.

Zhu Rongji emphasized that at present, the supply of grain and industrial consumer goods is greater than demand and this has provided a golden opportunity for returning farmland land to forests and improving the ecological environment. We must firmly grasp this rare opportunity and actively and prudently push forward work in this respect. Places where conditions are favorable, especially regions in southern China where there is plenty of rain and grass and trees grow rapidly, may appropriately quicken the steps of returning farmland to forests. Of course, places where conditions are not favorable should not rush headlong into mass action.

He said that various localities should seriously sum up experience in returning farmland to forests, comprehensively implement relevant policies formulated by the central authorities, constantly improve the ways of implementation, and solve existing problems in good time. They should seriously carry out inspection, supervision and acceptance work, and ensure the quality of work to return farmland to forests. He asked officials in charge of relevant departments of the State Council who were accompanying him on the tour to organize inspection groups to strictly inspect the progress of the work to return farmland to forests and grassland.

To gain thorough understanding of the difficulties and demands of areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups and to study measures to help these areas develop faster are another main objective of Zhu Rongji's current inspection tour. Sichuan is a large province with many ethnic groups. The second largest area inhabited by the Zang ethnic group, the largest area inhabited by the Yi ethnic group, and the only area inhabited by the Qiang ethnic group of the country are in Sichuan. In 1996 and 1999, Zhu Rongji respectively inspected the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture and the Aba Zang and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. This time, he made a special trip to the Garze Zang Autonomous Prefecture to conduct investigation and study. There, he listened to reports on work of the prefecture made by leading cadres from all 18 counties of the prefecture and asked them to air their views.

Zhu Rongji pointed out that the party Central Committee and General Secretary Jiang Zemin pay great attention to the development of minority ethnic groups and areas inhabited by them and are concerned about improving the living standard of minority ethnic groups. An important focus of attention and starting point in implementing the strategy of developing the western region is to help areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups develop faster. While inspecting areas inhabited by the Zang ethnic group in Sichuan in 1991, General Secretary Jiang already pointed out that to "stabilize Tibet, we must first stabilize Xikang area." To speed up the development of areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups in Sichuan at present, it is necessary to emphasize the following aspects:

First, it is necessary to expand the scale of returning farmland to forests and this is an effective measure to help the peasants and herdsmen increase their income and widen the scope of production.

Second, it is necessary to quicken the construction of the infrastructure of areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups, especially the development of transportation facilities. To "stabilize Xikang area," it is first necessary to solve the problem of transportation there. It is necessary to have unimpeded highways between various autonomous prefectures and counties. It is necessary to make full use of preferential policies for developing the western region. It is necessary to mainly use treasury bonds, earmarked funds and bank loans to speed up the construction of highways, railways and other transportation facilities and speed up the transformation of power grids in the rural areas. Only by strengthening the construction of transportation and telecommunication facilities will it be possible to create conditions for developing the economy and improving the living standard.

Third, it is necessary to give full play to strong points, avoid one's weaknesses while exploiting one's strengths, take market as guidance, and make great efforts to develop economies with different characteristics in areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups. It is especially important to pay attention to developing tourism and trades that serve tourism. It is necessary to be very careful in initiating new industrial projects. Small paper mills, small sugar refineries, small tea processing plants, small canneries, small rolling mills, and other industrial projects that cause serious pollution and do great harm to the ecological environment should never be initiated.

Fourth, it is necessary to make greater efforts to help the poor in areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups and help them overcome difficulties in their livelihood as soon as possible.

Fifth, it is necessary to actively support the development of the educational cause in areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups and make great efforts to train various kinds of capable personnel for minority ethnic groups. Government financial departments should also take necessary measures to continue to give greater support to areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups and help them solve problems as soon as possible.

Zhu Rongji pointed out that strengthening solidarity among ethnic groups and safeguarding the motherland's unity and social stability are the common desire and the fundamental interest of the people of all ethnic groups across the country and are also the fundamental precondition and important guarantee to speeding up the development of areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups.

It is necessary to seriously implement the party's ethnic policy and religious policy, continue to do a good job in work for minority groups, consolidate and develop relations of equality, unity and mutual assistance among ethnic groups, and actively promote common development, common prosperity and common progress of all ethnic groups across the country. He emphasized that in the final analysis, the realization of comprehensive prosperity and development of areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups is determined by whether or not the broad masses of people and cadres of areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups can increase their confidence, rely on themselves, and work hard and perseveringly to make common progress.

Zhu Rongji said that the implementation of the strategy of developing the western region by the state has provided a rare opportunity for Sichuan to quicken its development. It should greatly treasure and firmly seize the opportunity, persistently proceed from reality, make unified planning, pay attention to actual results, and move forward step by step and with key points of development on mind. It should concentrate its strength on making a breakthrough in the construction of the ecological environment and infrastructure as soon as possible, continue to do a good job in the reform of state-owned enterprises and in enabling them to develop, make great efforts to readjust the production structure, and actively develop production with special characteristics, such as ecological agriculture.

In particular, it should attach great importance to, and earnestly speed up, the development of tourism. Sichuan has rich and colorful tourist resources. It particular, it has cultural sites of historic interest, world-famous natural heritage, unique and fantastic natural scenery, and unique local ethnic customs and practices. They are extremely worthy of exploiting and have broad prospects of development. Sichuan should make full use of the Wolong Giant Panda Natural Reserve, the Jiuzhaigou, Sanxingdui, the Emei Shan, Hailougou, and other brand-name scenic spots that are well known at home and abroad.

Developing tourism with great efforts can effectively protect the ecological environment and resources, and can also help upgrade industries and enable the people to get rich. What is crucial is to make good plans, improve facilities that support tourism, quicken the construction of transportation and telecommunication facilities, and strive to improve service quality. It is necessary to pay great attention to the management of scenic spots. Houses should not be built at random in the vicinity of scenic spots. Much less should cultural sites of historical interest be damaged or destroyed to build vulgar public places of entertainment. He hoped the broad masses of people and cadres in Sichuan will unite as one, forge ahead with keen determination, and enable Sichuan, the land of abundance, to shine more brilliantly and display an even more graceful bearing.

On the morning of 11 June, Zhu Rongji went to the Chengdu New and High Technology Development Zone to inspect the Diao Group, the Guoteng Telecommunication Company, and the park for pioneering undertakings run by students returned from their studies abroad. He pointed out that developing new and high technology is crucial to readjusting and optimizing the industrial structure and it needs a large number of capable people with a pioneering spirit. He said it is necessary to put the training, recruitment and proper use of capable people in a more important strategic position.

He specially encouraged and commended science and technology workers and entrepreneurs who were engaged in the production and development of high-tech products using agricultural produce and Chinese herbal medicine, fully affirmed their direction of development, and thanked them for their contribution to enabling Sichuan's peasants to become rich and Sichuan's industries to become prosperous.

People in charge of relevant departments who also accompanied Premier Zhu Rongji on his inspection tour were Xiang Huaicheng, Wang Chunzheng, Shi Wanpeng, Ma Kai, Liu Zhongli, Wei Liqun, Duan Yingbi, Lu Fuyuan, Zhang Chunxian, Zhang Jiyao, Mou Benli, Fan Xiaojian, Liu Tinghuan, Zhou Shengxian, Liu Chengguo, Wang Zhibao and Li Wei.

[Description of Source: Beijing Xinhua Domestic Service in Chinese --China's official news service (New China News Agency)]


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