By Zhang Hongrui
Eastern China’s Jiangxi Province has made headlines in recent months thanks to its efforts to use ecological protection to boost its economic and social development — a combined effort now known as the “Jiangxi Model”.
Following stauncher efforts by the provincial government to protect its environment, Jiangxi’s forest coverage rate stabilized at 63.1 percent in 2016, its wetland reserves reached 910,000 hectares and the water quality compliance rate of major monitored rivers reached 88.6 percent, making Jiangxi one of China’s top performers in environmental protection. Liu Jianjun, deputy director of the ecological conservation division of the Jiangxi Development and Reform Commission, said that in line with the central government’s overall plan for promoting the protection of a clean and healthy environment and establishing standardized national ecological demonstration zones, Jiangxi has used its local advantages to promote ecological progress.
Importance of Environmental Protection
Using green resources to develop the local economy has become a major issue for Jiangxi. At present, the province is building a green industrial system that features new-style industrialization as the core and also focuses on modern agriculture and a modern services sector, thus Jiangxi’s green economy has grown steadily. In the field of agriculture, new business modes such as smart farms, resident-operated farms, “production bases + central kitchens + catering outlets” mode, as well as other customized services have continued to emerge, achieving in-depth industry integration of agriculture, health, recreation and entertainment, as well as education and culture.
Medicine is a key area of focus for the province. In 2009, the revenue from the main business of Jiangxi’s pharmaceutical industry was only 20.3 billion yuan (US$3.1 billion), and the figure soared to 129.9 billion yuan (US$19.9 billion) in 2016. Because of Jiangxi’s sound ecological environment, the province’s sport and fitness industry and its health industry have become well-known at home and abroad. In 2016, focusing on tourism, Jiangxi’s service sector’s contribution to the province’s GDP surpassed the secondary industry for the first time.
Under the guidance of green development, the economy has also developed rapidly. Qingfeng Pharmaceutical Group is a typical example of the traditional Chinese medicine industry in Jiangxi which adheres to the principles of green development. More than 10 years ago, Qingfeng Pharmaceuticals was on the verge of bankruptcy. But now, the company built a modern green eco-medicine valley next to the Gongjiang River in Ganzhou, Jiangxi. Adhering to the ancient Chinese philosophy of “everything in the universe should follow the laws of nature”, Qingfeng Pharmaceuticals has continued to achieve self-transcendence and has turned itself into one of the top 100 companies engaged in drug development and research in China. It is estimated that the output value of the company will reach 27 billion yuan (US$4.1 billion) by 2020.
According to Jiangxi officials, economic development and ecological protection go hand-in-hand. Jiangxi Provincial Party Secretary Lu Xinshe stressed that “vigorously developing the ecological economy, enhancing green development and nurturing and expanding the ecological economy are all important ways to promote green development”.
Integrating environmental protection into industrial development is a way to enhance the green economy. Only in this way can the value of ecological resources be maintained and appreciated, and economic development and ecological resources can complement each other.
Creating the ‘Jiangxi Model’
The year 2017 marked the launch of national demonstration zones for ecological conservation and improvement, as well as the first year Jiangxi has focused on building a prosperous, beautiful and happy society. The green economy is booming, and presents a new and powerful force in global economic development. Jiangxi is one of the most “green” provinces in China and shoulders the dual mission of “building a national ecological demonstration zone” and “creating a ‘Jiangxi Model’ to showcase beautiful China”.
In order to build a green and low-carbon industrial system and to speed up the construction of a strong tourism province, Jiangxi has vigorously promoted its brand image of “Unique Scenery of Jiangxi” and has focused on building 35 key tourism industrial clusters. Total tourist arrivals in 2017 increased by 23.5 percent compared with 2016, and gross tourism revenue in 2017 was up 37.1 percent from 2016. In the field of agriculture, Jiangxi implemented “Ten Actions” of green eco-agriculture and established 43 national standardized production bases of green food raw materials.
At the same time, in order to promote the green manufacturing sector and speed up the green transformation of traditional industries, Jiangxi carried out in-depth implementation of energy-saving and low-carbon actions on approximately 10,000 enterprises and created 11 national pilot projects of the circular economy. Related data show that in 2017 the province’s energy consumption per 10,000 yuan (US$1,530) of GDP decreased by about 4 percent compared with 2016. On the basis of developing high-tech and less polluting industries such as electronic information, bio-pharmaceuticals and advanced manufacturing, Jiangxi has built a green industrial system with its own characteristics.
Lu Xinshe said that Jiangxi needs to conduct scientific ecological planning and optimize the layout of green development. Guiding planning with the concept of green development is an important prerequisite for promoting green development. Planning on important issues such as economic and social development, urban and rural construction, land use and ecological and environmental protection needs to be in line with the concept of green development so as to promote the unification of economic development and ecological protection.
The Jiangxi government views environmental protection as an important responsibility. Therefore, Jiangxi has propelled its ecological progress in an all-round manner. It has begun strengthening strategic emerging industries, accelerating the deployment of 60 key industrial clusters development and focused on supporting the development of a new photoelectric industry, electronic information and bio-pharmaceuticals. It has also actively developed advanced equipment manufacturing industries such as automobile and aircraft manufacturing, accelerated the development of e-commerce and supported the construction of e-commerce demonstration cities such as Nanchang (the capital city of Jiangxi) and Ganzhou. Additionally, the province has fully promoted the construction of pilot enterprises, demonstration parks and cities of the circular economy.