At the recent CCP’s 20th National Congress, China’s ruling government said that it had done a better job of protecting the environment over the past ten years. A Chinese investigative reporter exposed the opposite picture of a badly damaged China’s ecosystem that might not get better for decades.

Zhai Qing is China’s vice minister of ecology and environment. At a press conference, Zhai Qing claimed the CCP’s many achievements in the field. These include making the world’s fastest improvement in air quality, improving water safety rating for 770 million people, and helping more than 300 rare and endangered wild animals and plants recover and grow in number.

However, mainland Chinese investigative reporter Zhao Lanjian told The Epoch Times a totally contrasting story. Zhao said that China’s air pollution, groundwater pollution, soil pollution, and other problems still remain at shockingly high levels. 

Zhao said that the standards for environmental protection evaluation should come from the non-governmental organizations. Official data could not be trusted.

Zhao Lanjian says that China’s economic model and environmental protection policies are not consistent.

Zhao said:

“Some protected natural resource landscapes have been developed for quick commercial success in a predatory model, such as Zhangjiajie or Changbai Mountain.”

The reporter recalled:

“I have visited Changbai Mountain four times; the earliest visit was in 1994 and again in 2015,” Zhao said, referring to a mountain in northeastern China’s Jilin Province near the border with North Korea. 

He added, “I found out that the natural reserve has been plundered and artificially developed, and all the scenic spots in China are facing the same problem”.

According to Zhao, in many countries, such as the United States and Chile, people are not allowed to build roads or to develop commercial tourism. But in China, people put the tourist economic model first. They put tourism revenue from selling tickets first.

Zhao has spent the last 10 years studying the Yangtze River and Yellow River in Qinghai, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia to understand their ecological status. He has seen how the same model of “predatory development” has hurt the environment.

Then comes desertification which affects the water supply, fisheries.

Sanjiangyuan is the birthplace of the Yangtze, Yellow, and Lancang rivers. Its name also translates to “The Source of the Three Rivers.”

Commonly referred to as the “Chinese Water Tower,” Sanjiangyuan plays an essential role in China’s ecological status and national economic development.

In 2018, Zhao went to do field studies in Sanjiangyuan, which is in the southern part of Qinghai Province on the Tibetan plateau. 

There, he saw many new deserts. When Zhao referred to maps in the past, he discovered that thirty years ago, the area was covered with graveyards and swamps. These new deserts were formed in the last 30 years under shocking ecological changes.

Zhao said:

“I interviewed some experts, and they also believed that the desertification of the upper reaches of the Sanjiangyuan has actually caused the water shortage in Shanghai and the entire Yangtze River system.”

“Everyone can see the deterioration of China’s ecological environment now, such as the cut-off of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers and many water systems.”

“The cutoff of such water systems will also affect the development of agriculture, animal husbandry, and fisheries along the rivers. Therefore, no matter how good the government’s slogan is about these environmental issues, the reality is visible to everyone.”

This is the pollution scene in a river in the Tengger Desert in northwest China’s Zhongwei, Ningxia Hui autonomous after a paper company releases chemical wastewater. After the wastewater dried up, chemical crystals began to appear on the shore.

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