China's ecological civilization inspires Africa in green development
Published: Aug 03, 2023 07:44 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Editor's Note:

Building a Beautiful China plays a huge part in building a great modern socialist country and advancing national rejuvenation. At a recent national conference on ecological and environmental protection, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China should support high-quality development with a high-quality ecological environment and promote modernization featuring the harmonious co-existence between human and nature. From a participant in global environmental governance to a leader, China's achievements in the development of ecological civilization have been remarkable, and they have become even more prominent as mankind faces greater challenges such as the global climate crisis. The Global Times selected the opinions of international observers on China's ecological civilization and its implications for developing countries.

As the second-largest economy in the world, China's ecological civilization comes with many best practices for the African continent and other developing countries in the Global South. 

It is feasible, profitable and sustainable to modernize through economic policies and strategies that promote harmonious co-existence between human and nature.

Over the past decade, China's high-quality sustainable development has increasingly been built upon five key pillars - innovation, coordination, green, opening-up and sharing. 

As China and Africa rapidly expand their economic partnerships, the African continent has a front-row seat on how foregrounding ecological value is a catalyst, not an impediment, to economic growth.

The Eastern nation, for instance, continues to implement major, extensive and transformative forestry projects and many African countries are following suit. The continent has vast forest and tree cover and can leverage on such vast natural resources to combat the effects of climate change that could derail economic growth and social progress.

In building a development path where nature and social economy are not seen as separate aspects of economic growth but as different sides of the same coin, China is showing Africa that economic development is not synonymous with ecological destruction.

For many decades, Africa was held back by fears and concerns that modernizing and accelerating development could only come through massive environmental destruction. Today, China is showcasing a development model for the Global South where underdevelopment and environmental vulnerabilities should not be part of the equation.

China has successfully transitioned to a high-quality sustainable development path by striking harmony between economic growth, social progress and promoting environmental sustainability. 

A green industrialization revolution is not only possible, but should be the only way for Africa. And with a partner in China, it is no longer a trial-and-error process, but a matter of looking East. China continues to offer sound advice to Africa and other developing countries in the South to spur a green industrial revolution.

China's 14th Five-Year Plan is a good place for Africa to start, an ambitious agenda to promote high-quality development in all aspects, including the economy, environment, and people's livelihood and well-being, and realize the rise of China's economy in the global industrial chain and value chain.

China is, for instance, a global leader in electric mobility or green mobility and has already inspired African countries such as Kenya to begin the much-needed shift to a less carbon-intensive transportation model.

Earlier in January, Nigeria's port city of Lagos officially opened the first phase of a China-built electric-powered light rail project, a historic symbolic project of the Belt and Road Initiative.

At the heart of China's strong economy is its recognition and respect for nature by establishing key national policies for conserving natural resources while simultaneously protecting the environment. 

Ecological conservation is a potent tool that can provide the much-needed building blocks of an ecological civilization centered on all-round social and economic growth. As has been the case in many other aspects of the Africa and China development path, this is a converging point for the two partners.

As China and Africa continue to strengthen their long-standing friendship, there are many lessons for the continent on the eco-civilization path that China has successfully embarked on. The country has developed specific and fundamental national policies to boost environmental protection.

China's ambitious climate goals are built on the promise of material prosperity and social harmony and are in line with the path that many African countries now seek to take. Through China's successful model, the debate has shifted.

It is no longer a question of either development or environmental protection. China's green policies are both stopping a climate catastrophe, protecting planet Earth and at the same time spurring unprecedented economic growth.

China's influence in global environmental governance, among its partners in the Global South, is on track and gaining traction. It is a new era in ecological civilization and a chance for Africa to rethink and reshape established approaches to development in line with China's model.

The author is a Kenya-based journalist. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn