ALMOST HEAVEN: The colorful and rolling hills near Langmusi, a small town on the borders of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces, provide a glimpse of the natural beauty of the region. Qinghai is China's least industrially polluted province
Over the past decade, west China's Qinghai Province held a trade fair every June to attract investment from home and abroad. But different from other years, the 2010 China Qinghai Green Economy Investment and Trade Fair, like many other recent undertakings in the province, is tackling a new and environmentally savvy theme: the green economy.
"Qinghai has decided to follow a development path toward the green economy, so we hope the investment and trade fair can promote the development of such an economy," said Luo Huining, Governor of Qinghai Province.
During the three-day fair, Qinghai signed 127 cooperative contracts with a total value of 192.2 billion yuan ($28.14 billion). Seventy of the projects involve the green economy.
The fair, however, is just one part of the picture Qinghai is drawing. And in the coming years, Qinghai's location and resources will allow the province to accomplish its green goals.
Qinghai is an ideal place to implement green policies. It's already China's least industrially polluted province and would require little environmental cleanup, and is the source of the country's three major rivers, namely the Yangtze River, the Yellow River and the Lancang River.
Qinghai's frigid climate leaves pastures and vegetation vulnerable and hard to restore if damaged. To address this issue, the Chinese Government has established the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve to protect the province's ecological environment. As the largest of its kind in China, the nature reserve covers 320,000 square km, with its area taking up about half of Qinghai's total and even surpassing the territory of Britain.
"Quite a large piece of land in Qinghai is covered with pasture, forests, rivers and lakes, which have played and will continue to play an important role in carbon fixation. This has laid a solid foundation for the province to develop its green economy," Luo said.
Aside from ecological preservation, the local landscape provides the province with ample space to expand the country's solar energy base. Qaidam Basin in Qinghai has the richest illumination resources, with its annual sunshine time reaching 3,200-3,600 hours and annual radiation amount hitting 7,000-8,000 megajoules per square meter, the highest in the country. Moreover, Qinghai's silicon resources can be transferred to energy directly within the province, an unparalleled advantage that solidifies the foundation for Qinghai to further develop solar power plants.
At present, China's top five power companies are negotiating with local authorities concerning solar power projects. According to documents released by the provincial government, by 2020 the photovoltaic industry will become a pillar industry for the province, and a complete photovoltaic industrial chain will be established with an annual output value of 100 billion yuan ($14.64 billion). Qinghai has set the goal to become China's biggest solar power production and solar energy comprehensive utilization base.
The province also enjoys advantages in wind power and clean utilization of coal, Luo said.
For long, China has been developing its economy at the expense of the environment, but the adverse impact has caused a public outcry in recent years. In response, the Chinese Government has been committed to transforming the economic growth pattern and developing the green economy. And all localities, in accordance with their own conditions, have followed suit, proposing their own ways to reach green economic status.
SOAKING UP THE SUN: A worker at a solar power plant in Yushu, Qinghai Province, cleans the photovoltaic equipment to allow the device to absorb more sunlight (WU GUANGYU)
In its green pursuit, the provincial government will also incorporate resource consumption, environment pollution and investment growth in environment protection into the assessment of local governments, a maneuver that aims to promote the coordinated development between the economy and ecological environment.
In terms of the development model, Qinghai will avoid the path taken by east China—seeking development first and controlling pollution later—and form a development pattern featuring energy conservation, emission reduction and environment protection, Luo said.
As Qinghai awaits this massive green development, it urgently needs funds, talent and technologies. Luo said Qinghai can combine its resource advantages with funds, technologies, information, talent and markets in other regions, allowing the province to become a platform for market and industrial cooperation. It could also act as an accelerant in the development of green industries, such as those involving new energies.
"In this respect Qinghai is willing to be an experimental area for the whole country," Luo said.
Earlier in June, the Development and Reform Commission and the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of Qinghai Province jointly released their guiding opinions on accelerating the development of green industries. As stated by the document, by 2015, the added value of green industries, represented by the recycling economy and low-carbon economy, must account for more than 70 percent of the province's total industrial added value. The comprehensive utilization rate of industrial solid wastes will reach 30 percent and the reutilization rate of industrial water should be 75 percent. New energy industries, such as solar and wind power, as pillar industries with comparative advantages and local characteristics, should contribute to more than 15 percent of the province's total industrial added value.