Urban dwellers treasure greenbelt in north China

TIANJIN, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) — Despite the chilly weather, retiree Xu Zhenhong is happy to sit with his old friends in a pavilion next to Tianjin’s greenbelt, where they sing, capture the scenery with their smartphones and share the videos online.

Xu regularly visits the greenbelt, which is located between the city proper and the Binhai New Area of north China’s Tianjin Municipality.

It spans 736 square km, or twice the area of urban Tianjin. Much of the belt was developed on the former sites of factories that caused severe pollution.

“The air is much cleaner as air pollution has gone. I feel at ease simply by breathing,” said Xu, 62.

The local government has shut down polluting factories and allocated significant space for greenery during its development process, placing more weight on the area’s ecology.

Zhou Changlin, deputy head of the Tianjin urban planning and design institute, said the greenbelt was once narrowed and eroded by expanding industries.

An example was Wangwenzhuang Township, where nail production used to be a pillar industry.

Sun Long, deputy head of the township, still remembers the serious pollution in the 1980s when the township was packed with small nail workshops.

“Nearby waterways were tainted with colors due to industrial waste,” Sun recalled.

In 2017, following the Tianjin municipal government’s efforts to tackle pollution, the township shut down more than 400 polluting plants, giving way to the greenbelt.

More than half of the township area is now covered by trees.

China will advance its green development and promote harmony between people and nature, according to a communique released after the fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in late October.

The country will fully implement its sustainable development strategy, improve coordination mechanisms in the sphere of ecological conservation, and promote all-round green transformation in economic and social development, read the communique.

Liu Fengchun, director of the commission of agriculture and rural affairs of Tianjin’s Jinnan District, said the greenbelt separates the Binhai New Area from the city proper, which has helped prevent urban sprawl.

“Building such a large greenbelt requires resolution and persistence,” said Liu, adding that more than 80 percent of the district has been included in the greening process.

According to Liu, the local government will further upgrade the existing greenbelt in the next five years, developing the tourism, carbon trade and fruit industries.

“We will make meticulous efforts to make this a home where people and nature coexist harmoniously,” Liu said.

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