Understanding China’s environmental protection, culture and global cooperation through President Xi Jinping’s book

By John C. Azu

The book, “Governance of China, Vol IV” written by President Xi Jinping is a solid manual of China’s progress in all spheres of human endeavour, especially the environment, culture and global cooperation. The book of 658 pages packs quite some insights into China’s holistic development and contributions to human progress in all respects.

The aim of China’s eco-civilisation is to halt the decline of nature and biodiversity resulting from man’s industrial revolution and overdevelopment. China has, in addition to its rapid development, inculcated the creation of a harmonious balance between humanity and nature in the ecosystems as part of protecting human health and sustainability.

Ultimately, the country is pursuing a strategy of improving planning in its territorial space, implementing a functional zoning strategy, and red lines for ecological conservation. Specifically, the project is aimed at creating nature reserves, biodiversity on the surface and seabed protection networks and spatial limits for economic and social activities.

China’s green development strategy has utilised the natural endowments of the country such as deserts, mountains with glaciers, rivers such as Yangtze River and Yellow River, forests, grasslands etc as pivots for environmental conversation and the overall vision of high-quality development.

Of particular note is the strategic development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt. This 6, 300-kilometre-long river defines Chinese civilisation and economy by serving as both a domestic and international market corridor.

Similar to Xi Jinping’s “Green is Gold” is the ‘Five-in-One’ blueprint of socialism with Chinese characteristics with a commitment to innovation, and coordinated green, open and shared development. It is tied to building a “beautiful China”, the “China Dream” and the “Green Leap Forward” towards attaining national rejuvenation.

Using the Yangtze River for the eco-protection work by integrating the interacting factors such as aquatic ecosystem, water resources, water security, water culture, and the coastline. This President Xi said, “we must implement coordinated management and control of the upper, middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, its banks, trunk streams and tributaries, and the rivers, lakes and reservoirs in the basin.”

The work of the past nine years has seen a beautiful China with the return blue skies, vegetation coverage, a rapidly developing green economy, energy and material consumption has been reduced; smog has been contained; the number of black and foul water bodies has fallen; and cities and rural areas have become more livable.

Since the Paris Agreement, China has announced the goals of achieving peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060, which has won it widespread approval for its achievements in building eco-civilization.

China cultural development

Cultural development is a major area of developmental focus in China. China is rich in artefacts, archaeological sites, dance, culinary culture, and literature and arts that are unique. With over 5,000 years of continuous civilisation, the Chinese have also evolved a unique architecture and costume.

In the book, President Xi highlights China with the inclination toward Marxism ideology and Confucius philosophy and the people’s confidence in the overall socialist framework. Also, China wants to promote its culture as a way of enriching the tourism industry.

China in the global community and global governance

China’s international cooperation is hinged on building a global future for mankind. China recognizes that as the second largest economy in the world, it cannot shirk its responsibility to the world in forging synergies in health, space, climate change, poverty alleviation, drug and human trafficking, cybercrime, transnational organized crime and terrorism.

Thus, it has ongoing institutional, multilateral cooperation with the Arab world through the China-Arab Cooperation, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), China-ASEAN Cooperation, that is for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Of course, the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative has been widely felt in about 155 countries in building connectivity of the world since its founding in 2013.

In the book, President Xi recalls the efforts of China to facilitate global cooperation against the Covid-19 pandemic working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) while supporting the overall public health governance. Beyond the work it did with the WHO, China moved to help countries in Africa to enhance their response capacity to pandemics.

President Xi outlines that the overall aim of its interest in reaching out to the rest of the world at a time of decoupling, unilateralism, protectionism, and tensions, was to create a new order of a shared future for mankind that would be of “openness, inclusiveness, innovation-driven growth, greater connectivity, and mutually beneficial cooperation.”

The book, being the fourth in the series, have covered the usual topics of China’s development and more, although this article focused on just three of them. They rest include Socialism with Chinese characteristics, Overall CPC Leadership, the People First, Confront Challenges Head-On, Epidemic Response and Socio-Economic Development, Towards a Modern Socialist Country, New Development Stage, Philosophy and Dynamic, High Quality Development, Further Reform and Opening Up.

Other topics are: Whole-Process People’s Democracy, Socialist Rule of Law, Advanced Socialist Culture, Public Wellbeing and Socialist Progress, Harmony Between Humanity and Nature, Strong Armed Forces, Development and Security, One Country, Two Systems and National Reunification, A Global Community of Shared Future, Global Governance and Multilateralism, High-Quality Belt and Road Cooperation, Party Self-Reform for Social Transformation.

Reading through the book presents the reader with deep insights and knowledge about these critical areas of China’s development. Although the book was originally written in Mandarin, nothing in the translated version suggests any dilution of the message. The language has been simple and fluid. The delivery is lucid.

The book is not just full of wisdom, deep insights about the Chinese context and a visionary aspiration, it is also a leadership manual for all global leaders. Indeed, the work provides a peek into the mind of the Chinese leadership and why this vast country’s growth won’t slow down soon. The book is also relatable the “My Vision: Challenges in the Race for Excellence” by Muḥammad ibn Rāshid Āl Maktūm of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), although it has more practical and technical dimensions.

The book is important for all scholars and actors of politics, economy and, indeed, all lovers of knowledge.