BEIJING — As the grassland is in its most beautiful season, China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region is set to embrace its 70th founding anniversary.
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, the CPC Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, has always been concerned about life on the grand grassland.
Over the past five years, with a clear guideline on the development of the northern border region and driving force of President Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, the Party has united the people of Inner Mongolia in keeping their industries on the rise, ensuring a better environment, and leading better lives.
POINTING OUT THE WAY FORWARD
In Hohhot, the regional capital of Inner Mongolia, the sun burns hot high in the sky. An air of festivity precedes the anniversary with colored flags and banners along the streets.
It has been a history of glory. On May 1, 1947, in the midst of the War of Liberation, the people of Inner Mongolia established the autonomous government of the region, which marked the founding of the country’s first ever ethnic autonomous region at the provincial level under the leadership of the CPC.
In the northern part of China, connecting eight provincial regions, bordering Russia and Mongolia, and home to 55 ethnic groups, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region occupies a strategically crucial position.
The past 70 years have seen the grassland evolve from a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society to a region of prosperity with modern cities and vigorous pastures.
Ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year in 2014, braving severe cold, Xi visited Inner Mongolia and inspected posts along the border, attended the traditional Nadam Fair and visited enterprises and communities, greeting local Party members, cadres, children in welfare houses and needy workers.
Based on his examination into the unique economic conditions and history of the region, Xi put forward a set of ideas on the long-term development of Inner Mongolia.
“I hope that cadres and people from all ethnic groups in Inner Mongolia can protect the border of the country and the spiritual home for the ethnic groups in the region,” Xi said, stressing the importance for them to have a broader vision in terms of development.
“I also hope that all of you uphold equality and unity to look after and help each other, join forces to guard the border and lead better lives,” he continued.
President Xi noted that Inner Mongolia should be a shield of ecological security for North China, as well as a shield of safety and stability for the northern border. It should also become the bridgehead for the country to open up northward.
The ecological conditions of the region make a big difference not only to the people here, but to the ecological security of North China and the entire country.
With the advantage in opening up along the border, Inner Mongolia should push forward reforms, boost the border economy, and improve cooperation mechanisms with Russia and Mongolia, Xi added.
Courtesy of the Belt and Road Initiative, goods transported and cross-border visits via the region have increased significantly from the early years of the country’s reform and opening-up policy. Manzhouli, a major land port in the north of Inner Mongolia, is now the port with the most routes of the China-Europe railway.
RESTRUCTURING ECONOMY AND BETTER LIVELIHOOD
The industrial development of Inner Mongolia used to rely too much on resource exploitation. The ratio of industries related to coal in the city of Erdos once almost reached 60 percent.
President Xi stressed economic restructuring during his tour of the region in 2014 and put forward a series of solutions.
According to Xi, the region should combine adjustment of development modes with optimizing the industrial structure.
The adjustment should also be combined with energy saving and emission reduction, as well as the comprehensive deepening of the reform and opening-up policy, Xi said.
Sticking to Xi’s instructions, Inner Mongolia has since made significant progress in industrial restructuring. The proportion of coal-related industries dropped to 22 percent in 2016, compared with 34 percent five years ago.
PROMOTING ECOLOGICAL IMPROVEMENT
With the economic achievements Inner Mongolia has scored over the years, Xi has also kept the ecological improvement in his mind.
During his visit to the region in 2014, Xi pointed out two methods for ecological protection -- first, major ecological restoration projects, such as the sandstorm source control program and return of marginal farmland to forest and grazing land to grassland; and second, the speeding up of institution building concerning ecological protection.
Since then, Inner Mongolia’s ecological protection has been on a fast track, with more efforts in desert control, grassland protection and water and soil preservation.
To better protect the Hulun Lake area, more funds arrived, more legislation was enacted and limitations on fishing were imposed.
To date, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region has 182 nature reserves and 43 national forest parks.
NUMBERS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES
Inner Mongolia has made great strides since the 18th CPC National Congress, and the numbers speak for themselves.
The industrial structure is no longer over-reliant on coal, and is instead supported by various industries. Tourism saw an annual increase of over 20 percent on average, driving the economy to grow by an average of 7.9 percent each year from 2013 to 2016.
A total of 1.41 million people have been lifted out of poverty over the past five years, and basic medical insurance covers 98 percent of people from both urban and rural areas.
The urbanization rate of Inner Mongolia has surpassed 60 percent, with the total length of highways across the region reaching 190,000 kilometers.