Xi Jinping now wants economic growth to respect the environment

In a speech Xi cites the fathers of Marxism and great Chinese classics to assert the need to preserve nature. He also cited ecology as one of the five target areas to rejuvenate the Chinese nation.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – After decades of economic growth, at a huge cost to the environment and human health, China is discovering the value of ecology and President Xi Jinping has included environmental protection and improvement as objectives to be achieved.

In its February issue, Qiushi, the newspaper of the Communist Party, published a speech Xi delivered in May 2018. In it, the president cites Marx extensively and Chinese classics such as I Ching, the Book of Changes, and Tao Te Ching, to underline that humans must live in harmony with nature and that pollution must be fought.

“If mankind conquers nature with science and creativity, nature will take revenge on mankind,” he said paraphrasing Marx and fellow Marxist Friedrich Engels.

Xi went on to quote Engels' Dialectic of Nature, noting that the inhabitants of ancient Mesopotamia, Greece and Anatolia saw their land become desert after turning too many forests into fields.

Xi cited I Ching, a foundational text for the masters of feng shui, to back his point of view. He also noted that Chinese thinkers like Lao Tzu and Mencius stressed the need to preserve the environment.

Based on this speech, the Chinese president seems to have become more environmentally conscious than any other leader in the past. He has made nature conservation a key part of officials’ appraisals.

Last year he named it one of the three "battles" the country has to fight along with political and financial risks and poverty alleviation.

Conservation was also cited as one of five target areas for achieving the president’s “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.