Author's note: Since the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017, Xi's political theory is known as "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era," a long phrase with each word carrying weight of meaning. Since then, "Xi Jinping Thought on…" has been expanded and applied to the economy, rule of law, ecology, strengthening the military, and diplomacy. In these five commentaries, I address each of these areas, seek to discern its distinguishing characteristics. This background will enable a close reading of the political proclamations at the upcoming CPC National Congress. The fourth commentary features Xi Jinping Thoughton Ecological Civilization.
Why is Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization a central part of Xi Jinping's political philosophy? Why did Xi say, "The ecological environment is a major political issue related to the Party's mission and purpose?"
"Beautiful" is one of the six aspirational adjectives used to describe the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation — the grand vision for the 100th anniversary of New China in 2049. China cannot claim to be "Beautiful" if its air, water and land remain polluted.
The distinctive theme of Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization is to explain the relationship between human beings and nature, environmental protection and economic development, and the environment and people's well-being. Officially, Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization is described by "Ten Adherences" or "Ten Persistences."
I prefer a systematic framework of goals, principles and strategies.
* A beautiful China, celebrating ecological civilization, enabling the country's great rejuvenation by mid-century.
* The Party's overall leadership in constructing ecological civilization.
* Good ecology facilitates people's well-being and marks good civilization.
* Harmonious coexistence of human beings and nature, which Chinese civilization has long advocated.
* Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets, such that environmental protection can promote economic development.
* Promote sustainable development with green technologies, especially clean, renewable energy.
* Systematic, integrated, modernized management of landscapes, forests, farmlands, rivers, lakes, grass, sand, and biodiversity.
* Reduce pollution by multi-disciplinary scientific research, innovative practices, cross-regional system governance, and system improvement.
* Maintain strictest rule of law in controlling, preventing and punishing pollution.
* Involve all the people in building a beautiful China, by advocating a simple, moderate, green and low-carbon lifestyle, with minimum wastes.
* Engage the international community to build global ecological civilization.
President Xi has stressed all of these points. Here are four examples.
· On ecology as invaluable assets, Xi said, "Lucid waters and lush mountains are not only natural wealth, ecological wealth, but also social wealth and economic wealth."
· On systemization, Xi said, "Ecology is a unified natural system, an organic chain of interdependence and close connection."
· On strict rule of law, Xi said, "Most of the outstanding problems existing in my country's ecological and environmental protection are related to the imperfect system: the system is not strict, the rule of law is not strict, the implementation is not in place, and the punishment is not effective."
· On global cooperation, Xi said, "The construction of ecological civilization is related to the future of mankind, and building a green home is the common dream of mankind. Protecting the ecological environment and tackling climate change requires all countries in the world to help each other and make joint efforts."
That's the theory; here's the practice.
In 2020, addressing the United Nations General Assembly, President Xi surprised the world by pledging very publicly that China's carbon dioxide emissions will peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality will be achieved before 2060.
China aims to reach a third of electricity generated from renewable sources. From January to July 2022, newly installed renewable energy capacity was 65 million kilowatts, accounting for 77 percent of total newly installed capacity.
"Green" is the third of the five "New Development Concepts," President Xi's overarching economic guidelines. It is the first time that environmental concerns have been elevated to highest national priority.
It was in 2005 that then Zhejiang Party Secretary Xi Jinping first voiced the now ubiquitous slogan, "Clear waters and green mountains are as valuable as gold and silver mountains." I can attest first-hand that Xi's environmental concerns go way back, for that is what he told me in 2006 in Hangzhou in person.
Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization has both a back history and a bright future.
I'm Robert Lawrence Kuhn.
Script: Robert Lawrence Kuhn
Editors: Yang Yutong, Qi Haiming
Producer: Wang Ying
Supervisors: Ge Jing, Adam Zhu
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