Pictured are white tea plantations in Huangdu Village, Anji County, which has been dubbed “China’s No. 1 White Tea Village”. Photo: Liu Caiyu/GT
Over the past decade, the color green has become a more prominent and brighter background for Beautiful China, in which humanity and nature coexist in harmony and contribute more to the joint construction of a clean and beautiful world. .
The decade since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China has been the decade in which ecological civilization and environmental protection have seen the fastest progress and the most remarkable results. It is a world-renowned ecological miracle and a miracle of green development, Ecology and Environment Minister Huang Runqiu said Thursday at a press conference on “Building a Beautiful China”.
China has created a civilized development path characterized by healthy development of production, affluent life and good ecology. Blue skies and white clouds are frequently seen, clear waters and lush mountains are everywhere, and Chinese people generally possess a growing sense of happiness, gain and security, Huang noted.
During a stay of a few days in Anji, in Zhejiang province (eastern China), known as “China’s first eco-county”, Global Times journalists spoke with many locals, visitors and officials, and have been amazed by the county’s beautiful environment and the way the civilized green development path has shaped their daily lives for 10 years.
Personal dreams come true
Walking through Yucun Village, once the largest limestone mining area in Anji, a white-painted house stands out from other buildings. It is a five-story house where former miner Ge Yuande and his family live, run their guesthouse, and sell stone carvings.
Ge Yuande, a former miner from Yucun Village, previously the largest limestone mining area in Anji County, presents his beloved stones to Global Times reporters. Photo: Li Jieyi/WG
“I picked up all kinds of weird stones when I was a miner…and learned to carve and draw for the past few years. This is the stone I picked up on a mountain when I was still working at mine,” he added. said as he presented some of his favorite works to Global Times reporters, grinning from ear to ear like a child finally receiving a toy he’s longed for.
“I couldn’t dare dream of having today’s lifestyle – waking up every day breathing fresh air, immersing myself in carving stones that I picked up myself from the mountains and enjoying free time with my family for the rest of my day…you see, my daily dream was only to be able to come home alive from the deep, dark mines.”
The air in the village was then so black with coal dust that even the green bamboo leaves of the mountains were enveloped in it. Everyone who came out of the mines looked exactly alike – all covered in black. This situation lasted for decades, but things started to change in 2002 when the village of Yucun started closing the mines.
The development momentum towards green and environmentally friendly industries has accelerated in Yucun and neighboring villages in Anji County, after Xi Jinping, then Zhejiang’s party chief, put forward the theory of ” two mountains” – the clear waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets comparable to the gold and silver of legend – in August 2005 during his visit to the county.
Nowadays, former miners like Ge have sought ways to earn a living that appealed to them, with many becoming businessmen, running their own inns, shops and tourist businesses.
Pan Chunlin, also a former miner, is now a local celebrity who is frequently visited by officials and media across the country for being the first person to choose to run a hostel after the local mines closed. “My annual income is now hundreds of times higher than before. Today, I can earn in a day what I used to earn in a year,” Pan said happily.
Indeed, the Global Times learned from Yucun village chief Yu Xiaoping that the average annual income of villagers is quite high and reached more than 61,000 yuan ($8,948) last year.
Following the development approach called the “Two Mountains” theory, Anji has transformed over the past decade into a place known for its beautiful ecology and thriving green industries, which have completely changed the lives of villagers, Jin Peihua, head of the “Two Mountains” Concept Research Institute affiliated with Huzhou University, concluded.
Good cycle for green development
Jin went on to say that the “Two Mountains” theory is a good example of how to approach the relationships between “environment and development”, “life and development”, and “ecology and wealth”. Proper green transformation of economic and social development involves creating a virtuous circle, allowing villagers to obtain long-term, substantial and guaranteed sources of income, Jin said.
Lujia, a neighboring village of Yucun in Anji County, has an even clearer answer. Using the beautiful ecology of Anji, the village has explored a development mode based on “theme family farms”, such as traditional Chinese medicine, bamboo, fishing and rafting.
This mode of trade generates at least three sources of income for some 2,000 inhabitants of the village. Villagers first lease their land to family farm investors for leasing, and the local government takes the initiative to operate these farms with investors as a collective enterprise. If it generates income, the villagers receive annual dividends and they can also work on the farms for wages, Qiu Liqin, the village manager, told the Global Times.
In 2014, the collective assets of the village were quantified at only 375 yuan per stake, but in 2020 each share increased to 32,000 yuan.
Driven by the “Two Mountains” theory and with this good cycle of development, Lujia has developed into a large garden-like village where care centers and entertainment facilities are scattered among the villagers’ villas.
On a hot summer day, visitors constantly flock to Lujia. Amazed by the spectacular landscapes, they can’t wait to pull out their phones to take great photos, without any filters. Boarding a train that takes them through the whole village, visitors can hang out and hang out with their families and friends here all day long.
Thanks to the achievements driven by ecology, Anji receives a swarm of visitors every year who come from all over the country to get a glimpse of the clear waters and lush mountains, and to study how the green development model has brought wealth to the people. What they like to hear the most is how Lujia grew from a poor and backward area to a modern village.
She emphasized that the key to success is having the right people. Without the strong leadership of the CPC village committee, they could not have ensured the smooth running of the development cycle.
“I don’t have lofty dreams. What I want is to see everything in the village improve day by day.” In 2016, days after Qiu underwent surgery for a malignant thyroid tumor, Qiu resumed his position as a village committee member.
Since Lujia embarked on the road to prosperity, the local government has won the complete trust of the villagers, Qiu told the Global Times. Now, when the local government asks for more land expropriation to further expand the development of the village, the villagers quickly agree.
The changes that have taken place in Lujia and Yucun are the epitome of how the “Two Mountains” theory has turned into practice and flourished in Zhejiang Province and across the country over the past decade, advancing a historic and comprehensive shift in nation building. of ecological civilization, noted Jin.
The latest data released Thursday by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment showed that the number of national-level ecological counties across the country rose to 362, while 136 innovative bases for “clear waters and mountains lush are invaluable assets” have been established.
Guided by the theory, these cities and counties explored their own development path by viewing snow, ice, lakes, grasslands or the sea as the precious “clear waters and lush mountains,” Jin said.
help each other
“When we get rich, we hope that with our efforts we can help more people,” said Ding Junfang, head of Anji County’s Huangdu Village, which has been dubbed the “No. 1 of China”.
Green tea plantations have fattened the wallets of local villagers. Residents’ average income reached 63,800 yuan in 2021 thanks to this booming industry.
Despite difficulties such as lack of infrastructure in underdeveloped areas and unsuitable land for tea plantation, Party members as well as local officials managed to grow tea seedlings successfully and sent the first lot to three nationally poor counties – Qingchuan County in Sichuan Province, Yanhe County and Pu’an County in Guizhou Province in 2018.
From growing seedlings to selecting sites as planting bases, then planting, managing, processing and marketing, Anji has supported these regions throughout the process.
Currently, a total of 22.4 million tea plants have found new homes in five counties in five other provinces. The Green Leaves have helped more than 2,600 minorities in underdeveloped regions on the path to common prosperity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped them from achieving their goal of lifting more people out of poverty through tea plantation. Over the next three years, Anji plans to donate at least 30 million more tea plants to poorer areas, Ding told the Global Times.
“With a grateful heart, we were able to become rich and develop under the guidance of the CCP and the preferential policies given by the local government. We just hoped to show our gratitude by giving back to society,” Song said.