Full Text: Ecological Progress on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China published a white paper titled Ecological Progress on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau on Wednesday.

China SCIOUpdated: July 18, 2018

IV. Steady Development of Green Industry

With the goal of protecting the fragile ecological environment, the provinces and autonomous regions on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau work hard to control the intensity of resource exploitation and utilization. Efforts are made to maintain a good environment and a high degree of public satisfaction with ecological progress, and to achieve green development. An economic model featuring a circular economy, renewable energy, and distinctive industries, is forming on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, signaling an increasing level of green development.

Green production has begun to take shape.

In their efforts to create a green development model, provinces and autonomous regions on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau are committed to an eco-friendly path to economic growth involving low and intensive utilization of resources.

The state has established two national circular economy pilot industrial parks in Qinghai Province – Qaidam Circular Economy Pilot Area and Xining Economic and Technological Development Zone. Industrial activities in Qaidam Circular Economy Pilot Area include salt lake chemical, oil and gas chemical, metallurgy, comprehensive utilization of coal, new energy, new materials and special biological industries, with more intensive utilization of the local resources. Xining Economic and Technological Development Zone features nonferrous metals, chemicals, alpine biological products, traditional Chinese medicine (including Tibetan medicine), Tibetan carpets, playing a leading and exemplary role in improving the quality and increasing the benefits of development. A basic green industry framework is now in place, extending the industrial chain and improving the infrastructure.

Based on its resource strengths, the Tibet Autonomous Region has been endeavoring to optimize and upgrade its industrial structure. It has worked out the Circular Economy Development Plan of the Tibet Autonomous Region (2013-2020). Efforts are focused on clean energy, tourism, culture, characteristic foods, natural drinking water, transport, commerce, logistics, finance, information services, and other green low-carbon economic activities. In 2016 Lhasa was designated as a national demonstration city for the circular economy, and is now working in accordance with the Establishing the Implementation Plan of Circular Economy Demonstration City for Lhasa of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Relying on its resource strengths, Yunnan Province's Deqen Prefecture is focusing on four major sectors (foods, drugs, beverages and ornamental products) and on the construction of green industrial parks, along with a burgeoning biological industry. In accordance with the ecological functions of local areas, Gansu Province's Gannan Prefecture has developed a strategy of "building an eco-friendly prefecture", and defined the future direction of green industry.

Unique strengths of local agriculture and animal husbandry have become increasingly outstanding.

Provinces and autonomous regions on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau focus on unique agriculture and animal husbandry, cultivating green and organic agricultural and livestock products and brands, and building pilot areas for ecological agriculture and animal husbandry. These have become an important part of the green economy on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Since 2004, the state has invested more than RMB3 billion in Tibet, directed to more than 450 projects in 10 categories related to agriculture and animal husbandry unique to the region, including highland barley, yak-breeding, and traditional Tibetan medicine. More than 100 leading enterprises have emerged as a result, increasing the incomes of local farmers and herdsmen by RMB1.18 billion and benefiting 1.75 million people. The Tibet Autonomous Region is pressing forward with the certification of products of specified geographical origin, developing unique brands, and speeding up development of animal husbandry and agricultural products. To date, more than 10 farm and pastoral products of specified geographical origin have been certified by relevant government departments, including Pagri yak, Gamba sheep, Lhünzê black highland barley, Zayü kiwi fruit and Bomê Gastrodiaelata.

Qinghai Province focuses on four industries, i.e., grain and oil crop, livestock and poultry, fruit and vegetable, and Chinese wolfberry and sea buckthorn. Each of these represents output value of more than RMB10 billion. The speed of optimization of a ternary structure of grain, cash and forage crops is picking up. The building of national grassland ecological animal husbandry pilot areas, modern agriculture demonstration zones and industrial parks are making headway. By the end of the 12th Five-year Plan, there were 1,879 family farms and pastures, 8,876 cooperatives of various types, and 451 leading agriculture and animal husbandry enterprises in Qinghai. Crops unique to the region represented 85 percent of planting by area, and the coverage rate of improved varieties of crops was 96 percent. The corresponding figures for improved breeds of livestock & poultry and aquatic products were 62 percent and 95 percent. The total annual output of eco-friendly green and organic agricultural and livestock products reached 1.09 million tons. An agricultural products quality traceability system has been implemented. A "three areas and one zone" development framework for agriculture and animal husbandry is in place; this refers to a characteristic planting and high efficiency demonstration area in the east, a circular economic development pilot area in a farming-pastoral ecotone area around the lake, an ecological and organic animal husbandry protection and development area in southern Qinghai, and a cold water moderate aquaculture development zone along the Yellow River.

In order to accelerate the development of its growing industry unique to the region, forest & fruit industries, and the industry of byproducts of forests, Gansu Province's Gannan Prefecture focuses on the building of a highland barley base and barley industrialization project in the Tibetan-inhabited area, construction of the bases of highland quality rape and traditional Chinese medicine (including Tibetan medicine). Sichuan Province's Garze Prefecture and Aba Prefecture integrate ecological progress with ecological agriculture, construct bases for characteristic agriculture & animal husbandry and the forest & fruit industries each covering a total area of more than 100 million mu (133,400 ha.), and develop planting bases for Chinese prickly ash, forest vegetables, and woody herbs. In 2017, the area for growing crops unique to the locality in Yunnan Province's Deqen Prefecture reached 90,700 ha., turning out an output value of RMB1.9 billion.

Green energy develops rapidly.

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is rich in hydro energy, solar energy, geothermal energy, and other green energies. In recent years, the provinces and autonomous regions on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau have each built its own basic renewable energy industry system focusing on hydroelectricity and solar energy to support the coordinated development of the regional economy and environmental protection.

On the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, many big rivers, running through high mountains and canyons, boast significant potential for hydropower development. Tibet leads the country with 174 million kW of potential hydropower. In recent years, Tibet has built three medium-scale hydropower stations, i.e., Duobu, Jinhe and Drigung. By the end of 2017, Tibet's installed hydropower capacity was 1.77 million kW, accounting for 56.54 percent of the region's total installed capacity.

With 24 million kW of exploitable hydropower resources, Qinghai Province has built three large hydropower projects, i.e., Longyang Gorge, Laxiwa, and Lijia Gorge. By the end of 2016, Qinghai's installed hydropower capacity was 11.92 million kW.

Sichuan Province's Garze Prefecture and Aba Prefecture boast 56.63 million kW of exploitable hydropower, and 17.08 million kW of installed capacity in completed hydropower stations.

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau area is a world-leading source of solar energy, with 5,400-8,000MJ per sq m of annual total solar radiation, 50-100 percent higher than low-elevation areas on the same latitude. Qinghai Province has launched several photovoltaic (PV) power station projects in the Qaidam Basin, each with a capacity of at least one million kW, and is planning to build the world's largest PV power station. By the end of 2016, Qinghai's installed PV capacity had reached 6.82 million kW.

In 2014, Tibet received approval from the state to develop PV power stations without limit in scale of construction and enjoying priority state support. By the end of 2017, Tibet's installed PV capacity was 790,000 kW.

Sichuan Province's Garze Prefecture and Aba Prefecture have more than 20 million kW of exploitable solar energy, and PV power stations with a total capacity of 350,000 kW are in service.

Tourism boosts green development.

The unique natural and cultural landscape on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau provides rich potential for tourism, encouraging the catering, accommodation, transport, culture, and entertainment sectors, and protecting cultural heritage and the survival of traditional crafts, and the development of characteristic products. Tourism has become an important channel for green growth and higher incomes for farmers and herdsmen.

Giving top priority to ecological protection, provinces and autonomous regions on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau are promoting characteristic and holistic tourism, building new tourism infrastructure and supporting facilities, and encouraging tourism to integrate with the cultural, sports and health industries. The Tibet Autonomous Region is developing ecological tourism and quality holistic tourist routes based on nature reserves, national forest parks, and national wetland parks. Sichuan Province focuses on developing the Jiuzhaigou-Ruoergai Grassland tourism economic circle, and holistic tourism demonstration areas in Aba Prefecture and Garze Prefecture. Gansu Province is cultivating landscape and prairie & wetland eco-tours, building garbage-free demonstration areas for holistic tourism in Gannan Prefecture, and coordinating growth in tourism with eco-environmental protection.

In 2017, Tibet hosted more than 25.61 million visitors and its revenues totaled RMB37.94 billion, representing 28.95 percent of the region's GDP; Qinghai received 34.84 million visitors and its revenues totaled RMB38.15 billion, representing 14.44 percent of the province's GDP. In 2017, Yunnan Province's Deqen Prefecture received 26.76 million visitors, providing revenues of RMB29.8 billion. The number of visitors to and the tourism revenues of the plateau region of Gansu Province have grown at a double-digit rate for the last seven years. In 2017, it received 11.06 million tourists providing revenues of more than RMB5.14 billion.

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