BEIJING, April 9 (Xinhua) -- There are many ways to understand China's ecological civilization, among which is the indispensable knowledge that top Chinese leaders are serving as role models in the country's afforestation efforts.
A day after China's Tomb-sweeping holiday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other state and party leaders made a tree-planting tour in suburban Beijing. Xi called for wide participation in China to plant trees, stressing that tremendous efforts are needed to increase forests, improve vegetation and tackle fragile ecological environment.
Afforestation has long been a tradition in China, a country which once suffered severe desertification. Since the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress designated March 12 as the National Tree Planting Day in 1979, it has become an annual ritual for top Chinese officials to plant trees in suburban Beijing around the Tomb-sweeping Festival, which fell on April 5 this year, a perfect time for spring plowing and sowing according to China's lunar calendar.
Actions like these by the top leadership are particularly meaningful as the country embarks on a carefully-designed journey of realizing an ecological civilization, a new catchphrase in the country, to make the world's second-largest economy a more livable place.
Respect nature, follow its way and protect it. The Chinese leadership has been tirelessly promoting a simple, moderate, green, and low-carbon life for Chinese people, and asked them to treat the ecological environment with the same importance they treat their own lives.
While most industrialized countries in the world have bitter memories of pollution and environmental degradation in their early days of economic growth, it is not too surprising that doubts emerge on whether China, the world's economic powerhouse, could keep its economy expanding at a reasonable pace while keeping its pollution and environmental degradation in check.
Chinese leadership's rhetoric on ecological conservation is grounded in reality.
Thanks to painstaking efforts, the forest coverage rate of China has increased by nearly 10 percentage points since the late 1970s. In 2018, China planted 7.07 million hectares of trees, and the country is home to the world's largest man-made forest in scale.
A recent Boston University study based on NASA satellite data shows that over the last two decades, "the greening of the planet represents an increase in leaf area on plants and trees equivalent to the area covered by all the Amazon rainforests," with China and India leading the charge. China alone accounts for 25 percent of the global net increase in leaf area although the country holds only 6.6 percent of the global vegetated area. This remarkable progress is a result of decades of persistent efforts by the Chinese government and people.
Ancient Chinese philosophers believed the overriding purpose of life was to seek harmony in society and the universe, which could form the philosophical basis of an ecological civilization of today. Efforts must be made to blend ancient Chinese value with a modern undertaking to create an ecological civilization that fits with today's economic, social and ecological environment.
China plans to add 6.73 million hectares of afforested areas in 2019 to further expand forest coverage. Spring is short, so plant trees and make a difference not only in China, but also the world.