There has been a lot of talk about an “ecological red line” lately in China, but what is this red line and how does it play into the country’s wider environmental strategy?
According to a guideline issued by the central government last Tuesday, by 2020 there must be clearly defined protected zones across the country where development is strictly prohibited.
Simply put, it is an explicit and universal message that development should not cross the line. Unfettered development at the cost of the environment has had its day.
Decades of breathtaking economic growth has left the country with polluted rivers, toxic air and contaminated soil.
It is comforting, though, that the top leadership are committed to addressing environmental degradation, even at the expense of short-term economic growth.
To achieve greener development, China has moved away from its obsession with unrivaled economic expansion, and shifted toward a more sustainable model that values quality over quantity.
To this end, the country has already shut down a great number of high-polluting factories, removed old vehicles from the roads, and put its weight behind the service industry.
With the introduction of the ecological red line, China is showing that its war against environmental deterioration is far from over, and that pollution and over-exploitation of natural resources will be handled with an iron fist.
China’s resolve to protect the environment should never be underestimated.
Officials have been, and will continue to be, removed from office if they fail to protect the country’s “green mountains and clean water” or shirk their responsibilities in the building of a “beautiful China.”
Going forward, plans, such as the red line, must be implemented properly. Therefore, it’s a pressing task for the central government to motivate local governments to enforce policies and that supports the government’s vision.
It is high time for local officials distracted by growth data to abandon this mindset and make good on their pledges to uphold the country’s environmental strategy.
As a Chinese saying goes: “Empty talk harms the country, hard work prospers the nation.”
Pragmatism is needed for China to emerge victorious from the war against environmental degradation.