ㄑ Belt and Road ㄑ Opinion

Environment, ecology along Belt and Road improved, not harmed

Xinhua | October 13, 2023

Over the past decade, solid achievements have been accomplished in promoting green development through China's fruitful cooperation with Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partners. Attempts to smear and disrupt BRI cooperation on the pretext of environmental protection are nothing but a farce.

Some Western media outlets have carried reports accusing this initiative of causing "pollution and ecological devastation." Are they reporting the facts? No!

The truth is that BRI cooperation is high-standard and environment-friendly, helping developing countries control and reduce pollution.

To put it simply, China does not transfer polluting industries to other countries, but integrates green development and quality industrial capacity into cooperation to meet the development needs of its partners. Environmental protection is always a priority in BRI projects.

For instance, the China-Laos Railway, a flagship BRI project, avoided going through six natural and cultural protection areas and avoided occupying national-level protected forests in Laos. The total greening area along the whole line is over 3 million square meters.

Meanwhile, many passages and bridges along the Mombasa-Nairobi railway, another key BRI project, were set up to ensure the free movement of wildlife. Such railway projects significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions compared with truck transport.

On the question of whether it's good development, facts speak louder than words.

Take the Smederevo steel mill in Serbia, for example. When the steel mill was on the verge of bankruptcy, China's HeSteel Group (HBIS) purchased the Smederevo Steelworks and established HBIS Serbia in 2016.

Some Western media outlets alleged that the pollution levels increased after it was purchased by the Chinese company, but data released by the Serbian Environmental Protection Agency showed that the air pollution in Smederevo has been decreasing since the steelworks got its new owner in 2016. The number of days with pollutant levels above the threshold dropped by more than 40 percent in 2020 compared with 2011.

In fact, China's efforts on BRI cooperation have increased the green development capacity of partner countries. China leads the world when it comes to manufacturing clean energy generation facilities for wind and photovoltaic power, while it produces more than 70 percent of the world's total of polysilicon, wafers, cells and modules. China's strength in clean energy development provides a strong impetus for advancing the global green transition.

China has carried out green energy cooperation projects with more than 100 countries and regions, and its investment in green and low-carbon energy in BRI partner countries has exceeded its investment in traditional energy projects there.

In a boost for green finance, China's green financial products have seen rapid growth. By the end of March, the country's outstanding green loans in yuan and foreign currencies exceeded 25 trillion yuan (about 3.5 trillion U.S. dollars), and its outstanding green bonds surpassed 1.5 trillion yuan, both ranking among the top globally.

In the coming decade, with its advantages in the field of renewable energy, China is poised to provide further important support and impetus for low-carbon transformation in BRI participating countries.

There is a famous slogan that is often seen across China: "Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets." It clearly expresses China's environmental protection philosophy.

Internationally, promoting green development under the BRI is in line with China's aspiration to contribute to building a clean and beautiful world. It is Chinese wisdom applied to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

The BRI was proposed by China, but it belongs to the whole world. Jointly building a green Belt and Road conforms to the green and low-carbon development trend. Green and clean cooperation under the BRI framework will bring more opportunities and fruits for people in participating countries as the long-term initiative ushers in a new promising decade.