Besides water, Tibet can give India green lessons
Published: Dec 11, 2019 08:58 PM

Photo taken on July 16, 2019 shows a scenery along the highway linking Lhasa with Nyingchi in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. Photo: Xinhua

In a recent conversation with an Indian friend of mine, I suggested that he watch the first episode of The Very Edge of China, a documentary aired not long ago on Discovery Channel. By recording a Chinese and a foreign explorer's adventures in China's extremely difficult living environments, the documentary shows the remarkable beauty and the way of life of locals living in harmony with nature. 

The first episode tells the story of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which offers water for one-fifth of the world's population and is regarded as the water tower of China. The Ganges, the Indus, the Brahmaputra - also known as the Yarlung Zangbo River - and many other rivers all have their sources in the plateau. It can be said that the plateau nurtured Chinese and Indian civilizations. 

The documentary shows the formation of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau through a story that combines the elements of geography, history, humanities and adventure, revealing the style and features of the region through spectacular sights and descriptions. Such frames enhance the sense of rhythm and fascinate the viewers.  

The great mountains and rivers that appear in front of the audience seem motionless. But they have been moving in the long evolution of Earth, giving birth to various life rhythms. 

Under the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, the photographer's lens captured marine fossils from tens of thousands of years ago. 

It is a new attempt by the documentary's producers - China Intercontinental Communication Center and Discovery Channel - to help people learn and understand this ancient civilization through "the very edge of China." From the magnificent mountains and rivers covered by snow to the well-protected vegetation, the story of China expands time and space and integrates with the geography of our planet. This is an indispensable part of a country's history and is also the most exciting part of the tens of thousands of years' Earth history. 

We have only one Earth. The audience will see how Chinese people are striving to find the most harmonious way to get along with the Earth at the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau - the roof of the world. This is a story of today's China, and is certainly one of the most important stories of the Earth.

Geographically, the upper reaches of many South Asian rivers are located in China. India is heavily dependent on natural resources, especially water, for its development, but India faces water scarcity. Therefore, New Delhi pays the highest attention to Beijing's development plan on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Some Indian and Western observers see water resources as a focus of disputes between China and India, with a few of them even predicting that there would be "water wars" between the two Asian neighbors. 

As the majority of Indians could not yet pay a visit to Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region and other part of China as well, watching this documentary can help them understand the real situation on the plateau, particularly how the tender environment of the plateau is being protected. In addition, they can also have a glimpse of China's policies in terms of development and the resulting changes in recent years. 

A hundred percent of the surface water quality in the region has reached the national water standards, 97.5 percent of days are rated as "excellent" or "good" in terms of air quality in seven major cities. In the meantime, air quality in Lhasa, the regional capital, ranked second among 74 major cities in China. 

The protection of water resources in Tibet has showcased its strict accountability system, which is China's uniqueness. For example, in Nyingchi city, a "river chief" system - in which stewards are assigned for each waterway to tackle water pollution - is established with more than 980 people working as river chiefs who are in charge of protecting, with other people, all 651 local rivers. 

In August 2018, a flood occurred in the middle course of the Yarlung Zangbo River that flows across Nyingchi. Two months later, a landslide created a barrier lake on the river course in Mainling county, Nyingchi. The Chinese government has informed India about both cases and shared hydrological data. 

Geographical environment and transition of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is significant to South Asia, East Asia, and even our planet as well as for humanity's survival. Chinese people are aware of what responsibility they shoulder. 

The author is a senior editor with People's Daily, and currently a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China. dinggang@globaltimes.com.cn. Follow him on Twitter @dinggangchina