Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks during an inspection tour from Monday to Tuesday in the city of Bayannur, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The Wuliangsu Lake is the largest lake wetland in the Yellow River basin and a natural environmental shield for reining in the sources of sandstorms affecting Beijing and Tianjin. During his visit to the lake on Monday afternoon, Xi called for concerted efforts to treat and protect it by pursuing the clear path ahead to bestow on the offspring a beautiful homeland of lush mountains, lucid waters, and fresh air.
At a modern agriculture demonstration park on the south bank of the Wuliangsu Lake, Xi watched displays of soil and seed samples and commended local practices of putting idled saline-alkali lands and desertified lands into good use, as well as advancing scientific irrigation methods and promoting modern agriculture.
Going into the fields, Xi carefully checked on the growth of wheat and pepper and inquired agricultural technicians about the status of building high-standard farmland.
He noted that the demonstration park should make tangible contributions to fostering modern agriculture. Through constant exploration, it should find the most suitable breeds, technologies, and cultivation methods, drive down costs, and improve efficiency to form replicable practices for other regions.
On Tuesday morning, Xi visited a state forestry area in Linhe District to learn about progress in the Three-North Shelterbelt Forest Program (TSFP). Xi stressed the need to prevent and control desertification for the survival and development of humanity. He warned of regression risks at the slightest lapse of attention as if pushing a boulder uphill.
The ecological systems in northeast China, north China, and northwest China are fragile, making the fight against desertification a long-standing task, said Xi, urging such efforts to persist in the state forestry area in Linhe.
At an information-powered monitoring center in the Hetao irrigation area, one of China’s three largest irrigation areas, Xi appreciated the tremendous efforts put into the irrigation project that has lasted over two thousand years, calling them worthwhile.
On Tuesday afternoon, Xi presided over a symposium in the city of Bayannur on strengthening the comprehensive prevention and control of desertification and promoting the construction of crucial ecological projects, including the TSFP.
After over 40 years of unremitting efforts, China has made remarkable achievements in preventing and controlling desertification, and realized a historic transformation from "sand forcing humans to retreat" to "trees forcing sand to retreat" in key areas, Xi said during a speech at the symposium.
The economic and social development, as well as the ecological outlook of desertification areas, have undergone earth-shaking changes, Xi said, adding that the hazards of sandstorms and soil erosion have been effectively curbed.
Xi said cadres should understand the long-term, arduous, repetitive, and uncertain nature of preventing and controlling desertification, strengthening political stand, and enhancing the sense of mission and urgency.
He said the period from 2021 to 2030 is the construction period of the TSFP’s sixth phase, which is significant for consolidating and expanding the achievements of desertification prevention and control.
Xi urged the country to use a decade to build the TSFP into a fully functional and unbreakable green Great Wall and ecological security barrier in northern China.
China should apply systems-thinking and adopt a holistic approach to improving its ecosystems by promoting the integrated conservation and restoration of mountains, waters, forests, farmlands, lakes, grasslands, and deserts, Xi said.
Xi urged fighting the battle against desertification in three key areas. For Mu Us Desert, Kubuqi Desert, and Helan Mountain, efforts will be made to restore rivers, lakes, wetlands, and grasslands to enhance the region’s capability in sand prevention and headwater protection.
For the sand lands of Horqin and Hunshandake, Xi underscored scientifically launching massive ecological protection and restoration projects.
He also called for efforts to strengthen the restoration of degraded forests and grasslands in areas spanning the Hexi Corridor to the Taklimakan Desert to prevent the spreading of sand sources.
Xi stressed advancing sand control scientifically and comprehensively improving the quality and stability of desert ecosystems.
More should be done to promote international communication and cooperation, such as participating in the global efforts of controlling desertification, supporting sand control in Belt and Road countries, and facilitating policy dialogues and information sharing among different countries, Xi said.
Cai Qi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee, accompanied Xi on the visits and attended the symposium.