Diplomats taste China's ecological progress in SW China's Guizhou
Published: Jun 05, 2023 09:18 PM
Wujiang River, the mother river of Guizhou and the largest tributary on the south bank of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River Photo: Liu Caiyu/GT

Wujiang River, the mother river of Guizhou and the largest tributary on the south bank of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River Photo: Liu Caiyu/GT

As World Environment Day was celebrated on Monday, more than 20 diplomats from 19 nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) paid a visit to Southwest China's Guizhou Province to have a closer taste of China's ecological progress and achievements. 

While standing on the observation platform of the Wujiang River, the mother river of Guizhou and the largest tributary on the south bank of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River that carries more than half of Guizhou's population and economic output, visitors just cannot help being "awed" by its green and natural beauty.  

But one can hardly image that Huawu village in the city of Bijie, also known as the "cliffside village," located at the confluence of the north and south sources of the Wujiang River, used to suffer from a fragmented environment, severe soil erosion, poor environmental hygiene and low incomes. 

Many villagers in Huawu raised fish in net cages on the river surface, which was also a major cause of water pollution in the Wujiang River. Thanks to local ecological efforts, the village - home to 1,133 people from the three ethnic groups of the Miao, Yi and Han - has embarked on the green development path and stages these current splendid scenes. 

"When I just find this type of place, mountainous with a lot of rivers running through it, you will say 'how can I live there?'" Fiji's Ambassador to China Manasa R. Tagicakibau  said. 

 "You look at the development that Guizhou authorities did together with the local people, ethnic minorities and the population at large, in terms of development to make this mountainous area a very safe and harmonious place and a happy place to live in. I'm impressed," he said.

Huawu village, based on its resource endowment and unique ethnic customs, has promoted the integrated development of agriculture, culture and tourism. In 2022, the per capita disposable income of the local villagers exceeded 25,000 yuan ($3,512), more than double that of 2020, media reports said.

Tagicakibau told the Global Times that on ecological civilization, the Guizhou local authorities and the Chinese government under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, have gone "so far ahead in advance."

"Green is the defining feature of China in the new era, and green development features the Chinese path to modernization," read a white paper on green development issued by China's State Council, the cabinet.

Ambassador of Mauritius to China Alain Wong Yen Cheong, who just finished taking selfies with his wife in front of the beautiful mountains and Wujiang River, told the Global Times that Guizhou comes with a "big surprise" for him, compared with what he saw in 2018 when he served as Minister of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment of Mauritius. 

"I came here today for the Environment Day. I saw the achievement of China is not only in words, it is in action," Wong said. 

Wong said where many countries are struggling to cut the forests for their own economies, in China what he has seen is that in many places like Guizhou, the green places and forests are back. 

Pointing to a bird resting on a tree, the ambassador said "it is a very, very good sign" that these are birds that disappeared many places in the world but are returning in Guizhou.

Ambassador of Malta to China John Busuttil is invited to plant an osmanthus sapling at the

Ambassador of Malta to China John Busuttil is invited to plant an osmanthus sapling at the "International Ecological Friendship Forest" in Bijie, Guizhou Province together with a group of visiting diplomats as part of the themed activities for World Environment Day on June 5, 2023. Photo: Liu Caiyu/GT

As part of the themed activities for World Environment Day, diplomats were invited to plant osmanthus saplings at the "International Ecological Friendship Forest" in Bijie, Ambassador of Malta to China John Busuttil, who had just finished this task, said "it's wonderful" to plant a tree on this special day.

"We cannot leave the world worse than we found it to our children. This is why progress and development have to be sustainable. Whatever we do, we need to take care of the environment, the trees," Busuttil said.

At a small patch on the mountain surrounded by the stunning natural scenery of Bijie, the visiting ambassadors and diplomats signed and released a joint statement emphasizing the importance of ecological civilization to people's well-being and the future of humankind. 

They called on all countries and regions across the world to take action to reinvigorate the global partnership for sustainable development and pursue a harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature.

In their statement, the ambassadors highlighted the importance of not pursuing economic development at the expense of the environment. They pointed to the success of Bijie, which has prioritized the ecology and pursued green development, demonstrating that development and environmental protection can go hand-in-hand and promote each other.

The ambassadors called for stronger leadership, more resources and smarter solutions to achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They emphasized the need to work toward environmental, economic and social sustainability in a holistic way.

Busuttil highlighted the urgency to meet the SDGs by 2030. "Since the goal for the SDGs by 2030 has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and influenced negatively by the war in Ukraine, with food prices and those of energy going up, and countries tend to use more coal. It's important that everyone, including China, which had achieved a number of Millennium Development Goals ahead of schedule including that if drastically reducing population living below the poverty line, needs to work together to achieve the SDGs."

Among the 17 SDGs, protection of the environment is one of the core ideas, and climate change is another. They work in an integrated way, Ambassador of the Bahamas to China Paulette Bethel, who had abundant experience working as Ambassador of the Bahamas to the UN, told the Global Times. 

She called for countries across the globe to work gather to achieve all the goals simultaneously.