Provinces and Cities along China’s Yangtze River Economic Belt have obtained huge ecological, social and economic benefits through green transformation efforts made over the past four years.

At the beginning of 2020, Zou Jiang, Director of the Economic Service Centre in an Eastern Chinese town by the Yangtze River, came to a local intelligent equipment industrial park to check upon the demolition work of some old chemical plants.

“We come here every week to check upon the progress. Eventually, it is all going to be levelled to the ground. Therefore, when it’s all done, it’ll be more convenient for new enterprises to settle in,” said Zou.

This Intelligent Industrial Park used to be a Chemical Industrial Park, known as the Dongsha Chemical Park, and was built in 1993.

There used to be as many as 37 chemical enterprises in the park. However, with more and more pollution complaints received, those companies felt a lot of pressure.

“On the one hand, we felt the pressure to be eco-friendly as we are right by the Yangtze River. On the other hand, both the equipment and the products were not high-quality. With local residents making complaints as well, those enterprises would have been closed sooner or later,” said Zou.

In 2016, the Outline of Yangtze River Economic Belt Development Plan was published. The government of Zhangjiagang City then decided to start the green transformation on the chemical park, but it took more than simply shutting down the businesses there.

“The biggest enterprise of them all had 1,000 plus employees, with annual sales of 1.5 billion yuan (around 216.09 million U.S. dollars). We had to negotiate with them more than 10 times,” said Lu Chongmin, Deputy Mayor of Zhangjiagang.

After negotiating for one and a half years, the biggest company there, Jiangsu Suhua Group Zhangjiagang, Co. Ltd. finally agreed to close.

“Our ideas of safety and environmental protection have been improved since the closure of this chemical company. In turn, it has also prompted us to research and develop, so that we can further produce other products,” said Tao Hua, Office Director of Jiangsu Suhua Group Zhangjiagang, Co. Ltd.

The Dongsha Chemical Park was shut down in late 2017. Local governments at both city and town levels later funded the establishment of a financing company and borrowed loans of 2.5 billion yuan (around 360.02 million U.S. dollars) for the compensation of those closed enterprises at the chemical park.

“We still need to adhere to the bottom line of environmental protection. In the next five years, we will build a new material equipment manufacturing industrial park that is worth hundreds of billions of yuan,” said Lu.

So far, cities on the Yangtze River Economic Belt have benefited from the high-quality economic development thanks to the policy of strengthening environmental protection.

Following the path of eco-protection and green development, the Yangtze River Economic Belt is also growing into a vital force leading the high-quality development of the Country’s Economy.