Region benefits from forward-looking measures
Fujian province is reaping the rewards of applying a range of measures aimed at improving the natural environment, upgrading local industries and further opening-up to the outside world.
The coastal province is one of China's most blessed in terms of natural resources, being home to four UNESCO World Heritage sites including Wuyi Mountain and Fujian Tulou, a site of large circular buildings made from earth and wood, and used as communal residences by the Hakka ethnic group.
Fujian also boasts two world-class geological parks, a unique tea culture, rich marine life, temples and close ties with Taiwan.
Its abundant ecological resources are regarded as the most valuable assets and core competitiveness of Fujian by local officials.
The province became China's first national ecological pilot zone in 2016. As a result, Fujian was assigned 38 areas to trial reforms. Among which, 22 have been completed and promoted to other regions in the country.
China unveiled its first regional green development index at the end of 2017 with Fujian ranked second. The index covers 55 indicators including efficiency of energy consumption, carbon emissions, air quality and per capita disposable income.
The province has made efforts to better manage and protect its natural resources in response to the central government's determination to improve environmental protection and green development.
Shunchang county in Nanping city launched the first "forest bank" in Fujian in 2018.
Xia Liuhua, a resident in Shunchang, became the first client of the forest bank, depositing 0.6 hectares of forest in the bank in 2018. Xia will receive 3,720 yuan ($537.73) from the bank annually in the next 20 years from 2019. He will also retain 60 percent of all profits made from the forest.
"This model allows us to take care of all small areas of the forest and ensure more effective and efficient management of forest resources," said an official from Shunchang.
Fujian has long been committed to becoming an engine for green economic development. In the first three quarters of 2018, Fujian's energy consumption per 10,000 yuan of GDP decreased 2.76 percent year-on-year. Water consumption per 10,000 yuan of GDP was down by 28.2 percent compared with 2017.
Fujian is also cancelling outdated production. All thermal power plants with a production capacity less than 300,000 kilowatts have been required to upgrade their facilities.
In 2018, the added value of high-tech industries in Fujian increased 13.9 percent year-on-year. Added value of tertiary industry increased 8.8 percent year-on-year.
"Ecological pilot zone reform will always be pushed forward, and will never stop," said an official from Fujian's development and reform commission.
The region has ranked top in China in terms of forest coverage rate for quite a few years, according to local authority.
As a core area under the framework of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Fujian will continue to be a front-runner to promote opening-up in China.
The province had 181 berths for vessels with dead weight tonnage of more than 10,000 metric tons by the end of 2018. The annual port handling capacity of Fujian was 558 million tons in 2018, an increase of 7.3 percent year-on-year. Ports in Fujian handled 17.47 million 20-foot equivalent unit containers in 2018. The China Railway Express, also known as China-Europe freight train, made 176 trips in 2018. Sea-rail combined transportation services were also expanded to better link the region with other parts of China.
Statistics from the Fujian government show that provincial GDP was more than 3.5 trillion yuan in 2018. GDP per capita was more than 90,000 yuan last year. The province has the second highest highway coverage rate in China. Its high-speed train network ranks third in length in China.
Fujian is connected to domestic and overseas cities by more than 100 flight routes.
At the end of 2018, the completion of the Nanping-Longyan Railway marked a milestone in Fujian's transport network and tourism industry development, connecting all cities in the province.