Mitigating water pollution and protecting the water environment has a bearing on the well-being of the people, the future of the country and the sustainable development of the Chinese nation.
Endeavor to pursue cleaner water and a more beautiful environment in China has been a major concern of President Xi Jinping, who has championed the country's river conservation efforts to advance ecological progress.
Over the years, Xi has inspected many rivers across the country. He has on many occasions stressed the importance of ecological protection and high-quality development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt and the Yellow River basin.
In 2019, China unveiled an action plan to protect and restore the Yangtze River as the country pushed forward environmental protection. In the same year, China set the ecological protection and high-quality development of the Yellow River basin as a major national strategy. The Yellow River is China's second-longest waterway.
Xi said restoring the ecological environment of the Yangtze River should be an overwhelming task, and no large-scale development will be allowed along the river at present and for a rather long period to come.
Provinces and municipalities along the Yangtze have stepped up conservation efforts to restore the health of rivers and pursue green, high-quality growth.
Over the past five years, a large number of highly polluting and energy-intensive enterprises have been shut down, and more than 8,000 chemical enterprises along the Yangtze have been closed, transformed, or relocated, official statistics showed.
"The protection of the Yellow River is critical to the great rejuvenation and sustainable development of the Chinese nation," said Xi during an inspection tour in Henan Province in 2019. He called for concerted efforts to promote ecological protection and high-quality development of the Yellow River.
In August last year, a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, presided over by Xi, reviewed a guideline on the ecological protection and high-quality development of the Yellow River basin. In April this year, a symposium was held regarding the legislation on Yellow River protection.
Xi has stressed the integrated protection and restoration of mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes and grasslands. The idea that "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets," conceptualized by Xi, has taken roots in the country.
Having spent 40 years fishing in the Yangtze River, ex-fisherman Hu Xingchun now works to protect fishery resources, patrolling the river regularly to see if there are any illegal fishing activities.
After the fishermen moved ashore and stopped fishing, fish stocks are recovering, said Hu from Susong County, east China's Anhui Province, adding that the rare finless porpoises could now be spotted on fine days.
Hu felt the urgent need for restoring river ecosystems after witnessing the dwindling fish stocks in the river. In the 1980s, he could catch up to 100 kg of fish a day, but the fish stocks began decreasing from around 1995 and later his daily catch slumped to less than 10 kg.
On Jan. 1 this year, a 10-year fishing ban took effect in pivotal waters of the Yangtze to help it recover from dwindling aquatic resources and degrading biodiversity. On March 1, the Yangtze River conservation law -- the country's first legislation on a specific river basin -- came into force, strengthening oversight as well as the prevention and control of water pollution in the river basin.
Thanks to the protection efforts, the biodiversity in the Yangtze River has been recovering.
Jiangsu Province saw a rise last year in fish varieties in the local section of the Yangtze, according to the latest survey and monitoring data jointly released by the Jiangsu provincial environmental monitoring center and Nanjing University.
Compared with the total 70 varieties of fish recorded in 2018, Jiangsu registered 81 fish varieties in 2020 along the waterway, an increase of about 15.7 percent, showing an improving ecological environment in the waters, according to the data.