China is marking 60 years of efforts to harness the Yellow River, the country's second longest waterway, with commemorative activities and instructions from its top leaders.
The Chinese people have been successful over the past 60 years in harnessing the Yellow River. But there is still a long way to go as it is such a crucial part of China's modernization drive, said Chinese President Hu Jintao.
"We must maintain harmony between man and nature, enhance overall planning and do a better job to ensure the Yellow River better serves the Chinese nation," he said.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the country should abide by the laws of nature and economy in their efforts to harness the Yellow River, stress water conservation and allocate water resources more rationally.
A grand gathering was held last Friday in Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province, to mark the country's endeavors.
Addressing the gathering, Vice Premier Hui Liangyu encouraged further exploration of new ways to harness the river.
"It is essential that we implement the strategies of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council," he said. We must take a scientific and more coordinated approach, and stress closer cooperation between different departments in harnessing the Yellow River, he added.
The Yellow River, known as China's "sorrow" and the cradle of early Chinese civilization, empties into the Bohai Sea in Shandong Province in east China, running 5,464 kilometers from its source in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. It supplies water to more than 155 million people and 15 percent of China's farmland.
Overuse of its water resources in recent years has resulted in grave environmental degradation. In a recent interview, Li Guoying, director of the Yellow River Conservancy Committee, told Xinhua, "The overuse of water has led to repeated cases of the river drying up, endangering the river's entire ecosystem."
In fact, 60 percent of the water is used for human and economic activity, compared with an internationally recognized limit of 40 percent utilization of river water, according to Li.
This has caused a huge drop in the river's water level over the last 40 years. According to An Xindai, director of the Water Flow Control Bureau with the Yellow River Conservancy Committee, between 2,000 and 2002, the annual average water flowing out of the mouth of the river was just 4.65 billion cubic meters, down from 49.6 billion cubic meters in the 1960s.
(Xinhua News Agency November 7, 2006)