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UPDATED: June 27, 2011 NO. 26 JUNE 30, 2011
City and Nature in Harmony

Xi'an, the capital city of Shaanxi Province in northwest China, is now the host of the 41st International Horticultural Exposition (IHE). China was selected the third time to host the IHE, following the 1999 Expo in Kunming and the 2006 Expo in Shenyang.

Launched on April 28, the 2011 Expo lasts 178 days, and more than 100 cities and organizations from home and abroad are participating in it. It is estimated the expo will attract more than 15 million visitors.

The expo's organizers want to show the city's determination to restore ecological balance through comprehensive treatment. City and Nature Coexisting in Harmony is the expo's theme and Green Leading Fashion is its motto. The city has invested 2 billion yuan ($307.7 million) in cleaning up and building an eco-park in what was the severely polluted Chanhe River and Bahe River area. The park covers an area of 418 hectares, of which 188 hectares are rivers and lakes.

Xi'an was once the capital of 13 dynasties, marking the eastern end of the Silk Road—the most well-known trading route of ancient Chinese civilization. At its peak (seventh-eighth century), the city was known for its beautiful gardens and the eight rivers surrounding it. But seven of the eight rivers became polluted, the Chanhe and Bahe rivers in particular, because of too-fast economic development in Xi'an and the residents' lack of a sense of environmental protection. Industrial and domestic sewage had been directly discharged into the two rivers, before the Chanba Ecological District was established.

Today, the beauty of nature has been restored throughout the two rivers area. Now skyscrapers are surrounded by exuberant trees and flowers, rivers and wetlands, serving as a vivid testimony to the city's efforts to regain its glory and beautiful landscape.

The Xi'an Municipal Government has launched a series of eco-friendly infrastructure projects to divert clean water from nearby rivers at Qinling Mountains to Qujiang Pond Historical Site Park, city moats and the Tuanjie Reservoir. The clean water has turned originally polluted areas into new eco-friendly areas as it runs through urban areas. During the refurbishment, the government also restored a lot of historical and cultural landscape, and conducted a comprehensive treatment of the section of Weihe River running through urban areas, so as to allow Xi'an to regain its title as a city of beautiful mountains and serene rivers.

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