NPC Deputies Call for Bolder Moves to Curb Desertification Around Beijing

The Chinese government should take bolder measures to check the amounting threat of desertification around Beijing, deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) from neighboring Hebei Province said.

Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji called on Hebei to rein in desertification in Zhangjiakou and Chengde areas to the north of Beijing in five years, which have become a major source of sandstorms striking Beijing in spring.

The deputies, who are here to attend the fourth session of the NPC, said this would mean 330,000 hectares of deserts need to be dealt with every year, but the current figure stands at a mere 60,000 hectares.

Meanwhile, deserts in Chengde are expanding at a rate of four percent a year. For Beijing, the nearest sand dune is only 72 kilometers away.

Zhang Baoyi, an NPC deputy and acting mayor of Zhangjiakou, suggests that the central government increase its investment in afforestation and draw up preferential policies and regulations on the prevention of desertification as soon as possible.

The central government should provide subsidies for land leveling, and tree planting and tending as well as for saplings so that more desertified land can be afforestated with limited resources from local governments, he said.

(People’s Daily 03/04/2001)