China seeks better protection of Yangtze river with landmark law

Reuters

Posted at Dec 30 2020 02:17 PM

China seeks better protection of Yangtze river with landmark law 1
An aerial view shows the Yangtze River where the water level has risen in Jiujiang in China's central Jiangxi province on July 15, 2020. Hector Retamal, AFP

BEIJING — China is seeking to further protect the ecology and environment of the Yangtze river, the longest in Asia, in the country's first set of legislation aimed at guarding the resources of a specific river basin.

With 96 provisions spanning over nine chapters, the landmark law was passed at a Standing Committee session of China's top legislature on Saturday. It will take effect on March 1.

The Yangtze, one of China's two so-called "mother rivers", the other being the Yellow River, has been stained by years of pollution. Aquatic life has also been threatened and fish stocks depleted.

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The central government as well as local authorities at or above the county level are to incorporate the protection of the river into their economic and social development plans.

Management of the development of hydropower resources will also be strengthened, with small projects not meeting the requirements for ecological protection to be rectified or withdrawn.

It will also be forbidden to build or expand chemical projects within 1 km of the shoreline of the river and its tributaries. Polluting industries will also be relocated or reformed. Sand mining will also be severely restricted.

Fishing on all the natural waterways of the river, including its major tributaries and lakes, as well as areas in its estuary newly designated by the law, will also be banned.

The law to improve the conservation of the Yangtze comes as China prepares to further develop the economies of the provinces and cities along the 6,300 km (3,900 mile) river.

The Yangtze basin accounts for more than a third of China's population.

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