Infrastructure giants seize business in China’s build-up of ecological civilization


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An aerial photo shows how the “Underwater Forest” helps purify water in Nanhu Lake in Jiaxing, east China’s Zhejiang Province. File photo: Courtesy of CCCC

As the COVID-19 pandemic has crippled international travel, a growing number of Chinese infrastructure companies are considering projects related to the “Beautiful China” strategy, believing that these projects have enormous potential given the vast China’s domestic market and the growing national appetite for ecology and sustainability.

Chinese infrastructure giants including China Communications Construction Co (CCCC), China Railway Construction Corporation and China State Construction Engineering Corp. that appear on host country banknotes and postcards.

In Nanhu Lake in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province (east China), CCCC undertook an environmental improvement of the lake measuring 0.52 km² by planting an “underwater forest” to purify the lake water, the making it swimmable again.

The lake, on which the founders of the Chinese Communist Party held a historic meeting on a boat in 1921, has become a tourist attraction in recent years since “red tourism” has gained in popularity, necessitating a project to improve the city. the polluted lake environment.

In addition to planting underwater vegetation that absorbs excess pollution causing nutrients, five tons of clams, shellfish and shrimp were dumped into the lake to help rebuild the ecosystem and additional sludge was extracted. Lake.

Zhou Fei, a Jiaxing resident and hotel manager by profession, told the Global Times on Friday that Nanhu Lake has become polluted as the city has become increasingly industrialized in recent decades.

“When we were kids, there were fish and shrimp in the lake, but the lake got polluted later,” Zhou said. “Now, as citizens of the city, we are very happy to see that the lake is getting clean again. “

“For our company, improving the lake is a big positive boost; and for our lives, I jog around the lake everyday, change is a blessing, ”Zhou said.

For Chinese infrastructure companies, they are delighted that such environmental projects represent a huge business opportunity to explore. Potential projects ranged from improving the environment for rivers and streams to renovating a dilapidated village to improve and operate the parks.

The move came as Chinese leaders have repeatedly stressed that the government must take action to build a “beautiful China, where the sky is blue, the earth is green, and the water is clear.”

It is estimated that industries in the energy saving and environmental protection sectors will have a combined output of 12.3 trillion yuan ($ 1.9 trillion) by 2023, according to an industry report released. by the online news site qixin.com in April.

Experts said that as the environment improves, the surrounding land will often see an increase in its value and related activities such as real estate, tourism and accommodation will have a better chance of thriving.

Big potential

While the domestic tourism market has received an additional boost due to the fact that Chinese tourists have largely chosen to stay away from global travel destinations, the opportunities in these sectors are increasing, insiders said. industry to the Global Times.

Cao Zheng, director of Shanghai-based SDC Orient Dredging Engineering Co, told the Global Times on Friday that future infrastructure construction opportunities in China will focus on rural areas, although this may be a different type of construction. ‘infrastructure.

“In Chinese cities, the infrastructure is already top notch, with many cities having infrastructure projects comparable to those in Japan or South Korea,” Cao said. “For China, the blink of an eye infrastructure link now lies in rural areas. With more and more Chinese willing to spend more money on leisure, the market potential is huge.

Cao’s company oversaw a rural revitalization project in a small village in Shanghai. They renovated an old-fashioned village with whitewashed walls and black tiles, dredged the village’s old waterways, and added several quaint bridges.

The village has since become a tourist attraction for the townspeople with hotel rates of up to 1,500 yuan per night on weekends, greatly increasing the income of the locals.

Li Dalong, a Tianjin-based city planner, told the Global Times that while a project like a park renovation seems trivial to outsiders, the market is actually huge.

Li’s company invested 3 million yuan in Chengdu, southwest China’s Sichuan Province, to rebuild a park at its own expense, then operate the park for a period of years to generate income with certain franchise rights such as advertising. Their company might manage the park better than administrators appointed by municipal governments, who are usually not business savvy enough.

“When we completed the dredging and park improvement project in Chengdu, local governments actually gave us 10 more parks to remake and operate,” Li told the Global Times.

Targeted sustainability

Ma Yichao, a senior expert at Zhejiang Hehu Net, a website focused on ecological and economic water issues, said beautification projects in China could capitalize on many environmental technologies imported from the West.

“It is very common that we integrate some of the advanced technologies from foreign countries into our projects,” said Ma.

“However, the effort can only be Chinese business, as Western countries do not face the same level of pressure from the dense population as China,” Ma noted.

Both Germany and Japan had some experience of how to convert a polluted environment back to green, but their experience is limited to the Chinese because their population density is much lower, Ma noted.

“Our overseas partners could not provide everything we need, many problems are unique to China and they are best solved by the ingenuity of Chinese engineers,” Ma said.

Experts said that although currently a large number of projects are carried out by state-owned companies, private companies should follow suit once they find a way to generate a profit from such projects.

Industry insiders have warned that the current wave of construction should not end with a string of tourist spots that are expensive at face value and are unsustainable. The operation of the site is even more important than the construction of a site in a perspective of sustainable development.

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