By Lan Xing, Poeple's Daily
Chinese President Xi Jinping attended a voluntary tree planting activity in Beijing on April 4, a day before the Qingming Festival, also known as the Tomb-sweeping Day.
In the spring shower, Xi and other leaders, including Li Qiang, Zhao Leji, Wang Huning, Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang, Li Xi, and Han Zheng, planted trees with local people at a city park in the eastern district of Chaoyang.
Xi has participated in the activity in Beijing every year since he became the general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in 2012. Xi said he also participated in tree-planting activities during his work in Fujian, Zhejiang and Shanghai.
The Chinese leadership has always placed huge importance on tree planting, as it symbolizes the revitalization of the nation, sustainable development and inheritance of the Chinese civilization.
In China, there's a special holiday in spring – the National Tree Planting Day. Thousands of years ago, ancient Chinese people had the tradition of sticking willow branches on their homes during the Qingming Festival. Emperor Shun, a chief of a tribal alliance in the late primitive society of China and regarded as one of the ancestors of the Chinese nation, had appointed a minister in charge of forestry affairs nationwide. Almost every dynasty in Chinese history had taken measures to protect forests and award people for tree planting.
Sun Yat-sen, the late statesman who led a revolution that ended imperial rule in China, was one of the earliest advocates for tree planting in modern China. On March 12, 1925, Sun passed away. In order to memorize the renowned statesmen, the tradition of tree planting has been kept on in the country to date.
China marked its 45th National Tree Planting Day this year. China is scheduled to plant at least 100 million mu (6.67 million hectares) of forests and grasslands this year.
Between 1982 and 2021, Chinese people voluntarily planted approximately 78.1 billion trees across the country. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, China has planted 1.02 billion mu of trees. The country's forest coverage now stands at 24.02 percent, up from 21.63 percent a decade ago.
Xi called nationwide tree-planting campaigns an active practice to advance afforestation and build a beautiful China. China has achieved prominent results in promoting holistic conservation and systematic governance of mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes, grasslands and deserts and in launching its large-scale greening campaign, creating a beautiful homeland with blue skies, green lands, and clean waters.
China plays a unique role in forest conservation and the prevention of deforestation. According to statistics, China has increased more than 22 million hectares of forest area in the past 10 years, ranking first globally with a contribution of a quarter of the world's new forest area.
Erik Solheim, former executive director of the UN Environment Programme, said in a recent article that generation after generation, strenuous, smart efforts were put into the forestation process in China in these past decades, and the Chinese people have written numerous stories that have made history.
Tree planting carries the love of the Chinese people for future generations and hometowns. During the tree-planting activity on April 4, Xi told students present to encourage their future generations to plant trees when they become parents one day.
Acacia and persimmon trees, begonia, pomegranate trees and jujubes are always seen in traditional courtyard houses in the Chinese capital. Xi recollected his memories of the city when he grew up in Beijing, saying he often thinks about trees when it comes to nostalgia.
Afforestation has become a spiritual connotation of China that has been passed on from generation to generation, arousing people's awareness for environmental protection and nurturing the country's green development philosophy. Through tree planting, China has optimized its environment, greened its mountains and kept people's nostalgia, laying a solid foundation for achieving sustainable development and inheriting the Chinese civilization.
Tree planting is a tradition, an obligation and a lifestyle of the Chinese people. Let's take proactive steps—from planting trees to ensuring our homeland has lucid waters and lush mountains, which are our invaluable assets—and draw a new picture of our beautiful China.