WE AND OUR YELLOW RIVER： THRIVING TOGETHER
good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. the issue of the yellow river has become the biggest concern of members of the chinese peoples political consultative conference. my childhood, in fact, is closely associated with the river. my father is an engineering geologist, and he used to take me with him on his trips to the hydropower stations on the river. i enjoyed those trips, especially the trip to longyang xia reservoir. although ten years have passed since my visit, i can still recall the scenery; i can still recall the water i saw at the reservoir. it was pure, clean and blue, not like the water i saw in the middle reaches of the river, which had turned brown and muddy after passing through the loess plateau.
once during our stay at the power station, we were caught in a thunderstorm. and when rain stopped, i could see trickles of water rolling down mountain slopes and flowing into the reservoir. it carried little mud or sand, because at that time, trees and grass still grew around the reservoir. and they protected the soil. at longyang xia i was struck by the beauty of nature, and as a child i wanted to stay there and to grow up with our yellow river.
li bai, the tang dynasty poet, said praises to the flowing water in the yellow river. he saw it as coming down from heaven and nurturing the people along her way to the sea. however, in 1997,for 330days, not a single drop of water from the yellow river went into the sea. and droughts are not the only punishment by nature. a friend of my father's, a university professor, is doing research on the yellow river. according to this professor, the yellow river will soon change its course if we allow this situation to continue. because there is no longer enough water to carry away the silt and mud in the lower reaches of the river and the riverbed rises higher and higher each year.
we have taken too much from nature, but given back too little in return. and this is the cost of the unbalanced growth. if we had taken care of the vegetation in the upper and middle reaches of the yellow river, we would still experience the river as li bai described it.
while the developed countries are consuming proportionally more natural resources than the rest of the world, they've also taken some good measures in protecting nature. and as a developing country, china can learn from them in this aspect.
last year, when i was visiting australia with a group of chinese students who had won prizes in an english skills test, our australian hosts invited us to join them for a horse-ride in the mountains. after two hours on horseback, we reached a valley, where there was a most beautiful meadow, with flowers in all colors dotted on a huge blanket of green. when i began to praise the beauty of nature, my friends told me that in this valley, there used to be a big mine and the wastewater from the mine turned everything brown. when the mine was abandoned, people made great efforts to restore the green vegetation. they also used the latest biological technology choosing the best grass seeds suitable for the local soil. so the beautiful meadow is a result of commitment, hard work, and new technology.
what happened to this valley in australia should also happen to our yellow river and, in fact, it is happening. i have seen farmers planting trees on mountains along the yellow river. i have seen them climb the mountain tops with seedlings on their shoulders because they had no machinery. i have seen them pour on trees the water they had carried up in buckets from miles down the valley. these farmers are quietly nourishing our yellow river, just as the river has nourished them.
and these farmers, men and women i don't know, gave me the confidence that we and our yellow river will grow together, and someday in the future, we will be able to drink the clean water from our yellow river again, because she is our dearest mother.