The Ministry of Water Resources will designate protection zones along
the Yangtze River and clarify the responsibilities of managing
departments as part of a two-year campaign to tackle illegal projects
and revitalize the river's shorelines.
Vice-Minister of Water Resources Wei Shanzhong told a news conference
on Wednesday that the ministry has finished marking out parts of the
Yangtze covering more than 1,000 square kilometers of the river's basin,
and it is planning to draw up boundaries for smaller areas to protect
Wei said the ministry will revise regulations to further clarify
departments' responsibilities for shoreline protection and utilization.
Regular inspections along the river will be enhanced and smart
supervision methods, including satellite remote sensing, camera
surveillance and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, will be promoted.
During the ministry's campaign, 2,441 projects along the shorelines
were found to have violated laws or regulations, threatening flood
control, river stability, drinking water safety and the protection of
nature reserves. By last month, the ministry had dismantled or renovated
about 99 percent of those projects and cleared 158 kilometers of
Nine provinces and municipalities along about 8,300 km of shoreline
have been involved in the campaign, including Shanghai, Chongqing and
the provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan and
The ministry has cleaned up buildings that occupied ecologically
sensitive areas, were built without government approval or occupied
shoreline without making the best use of it.
Local governments have transformed such shorelines into grasslands
amid the campaign, which was launched in October 2018 but has been
temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ministry said large numbers of docks, bridges, shipyards,
pipelines and drainage outlets built in the Yangtze economic zone since
the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 have brought
economic growth to the area.
In January 2016 and April 2018, President Xi Jinping inspected the
Yangtze and called for all-out efforts to protect it, saying there
should be no large-scale development beside the river.
Xi called for putting restoration of the river's ecosystem high on the agenda in developing the Yangtze economic belt.
"The cleanup and renovation of the shoreline is a very tough task,"
Wei said. "A large number of issues left decades ago have to be
resolved, but many of them involve complicated interests. The ministry
will make further plans to move on with the task."