China: Over a third of population suffers from dry, arid land

Jul 29, 2015 12:00 AM

About a fifth of land in China suffers from desertification and 80 percent of it is along the "One Belt, One Road" initiatives, a top official said Tuesday.

"China is one of the countries suffering the most from land desertification, which covers 1.73 million square kilometers and affects over a third of China's total population," Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said on the fifth Kubuqi International Desert Forum in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Wang said that China has developed new ways to control the situation, which would also help boost the livelihood of farmers and businesses.

The Silk Road Economic Belt spreads across thirsty northwestern China which experiences less rainfall and inadequate water resources.

As China pushes its "One Belt, One Road" initiative, new opportunities have come up to improve the environment caused by both dry weather and human activities, analysts said.

"It's the right time for local authorities to focus on fighting desertification, which could also help boost their economy," Yu Yi, an official of the State Forestry Administration, told the Global Times Tuesday.

China has vowed to make its "One Belt, One Road" initiative environmentally-friendly by conserving the ecology and maintaining biodiversity, said an action plan in March.

Yu added that there have been encouraging signs in containing desertification over the past decade, but skills in solving desertification should be further improved.

China plans to reduce the amount of desert land to 10 million hectares by 2020, the State Council said in April.

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