China Turns to USA For National Park System

Huanglong Park
Huanglong Park

China is a rapidly evolving country that is nearly on par with the West in many ways. Their cities have turned into beautiful high rises and huge nightmares simultaneously. In places, the development has been chaotic with poorly planned "ghost cities" to displace the huge cities most move to. The ghost cities are entirely built, yet, not occupied by the numbers the government hoped for. This mega developments sit idle because industry and businesses have not relocated. Absent a direct mandate from the government, it is funny side effect of China's accelerated modernization. Another consequence is the horrid amounts of damage Chinese industry has done to the environment. Smog in the major cities is much higher than acceptable US standards and a danger to health. Water pollution in the rivers and streams is rampant due to uncontrolled manufacturing. Last year, thousands of dead pigs were found in a main water source for Shanghai. Tests showed the water was contaminated with a chemical. Even water tests from "clean water" from treatment plants reveal it is still contaminated by US standards. China's soil and farmland is limited and over fertilized and these chemicals leach into the water table and aquifers.

However, the government seems reluctant to clamp down on the violators and despite laws to protect the environment, many are ignored. Now, China is coming to its senses, so to speak. They have seen the chaotic rise in industry and the results. They of billions of people who like to do things other than work. Many Chinese love to come to the USA to visit the national parks like Yosemite, Niagara Falls, Yellowstone and many more. But, they would like their own and China has many natural vistas and areas worth preserving.

A Chinese delegation arrived in the USA to plan for China's National Park system using America's system created 140 years ago. The system will create vast parks in nine provinces within three years. The Chinese plan to use the best aspects of the American park system and tweak it. Many of the park sites have been used by industry or other money making ventures. Places like Huanglong and Jisuzhaigou are alpine parks with stark landscapes that hikers like to visit. By embracing the park system development, it also raises the conscious of resource preservation and environmental issues. The Chinese have also looked and studied how many other countries have developed a national park system.

While there has been no national park system in China, some activists in various provinces have been able to create natural resource areas that are protected like in Wuyishan in Fujian province. In Yunnan province, there is a protected area of 115 square miles called Pudacuo.

While the Chinese have always placed economic development first over nature conservation, there are those in the government realizing that chaotic growth is not good and natural resource protection must be done. The key person pushing this reform is Xi Jinping, China's president, who as a student, lived in the USA and visited national parks. It is a lingering, good memory, he has of America.

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