Text by Wang Shuo
On October 31, 2010, the Wujin Hi-Tech District of Changzhou City, Jiangsu Province, hosted the inauguration of the province’s first Low-Carbon Demonstration Area, Low-Carbon Technology Innovation Base, and Building Energy Conservation and Green Architecture Demonstration Area. A few months earlier, on July 5, Wujin received the United Nations (UN) Habitat Scroll of Honor Award from the UN Human Settlement Program and became China’s first “Living Practice City.”
In recent years, Wujin has received wide acclaim for its constant endeavors to develop the low-carbon industry. Today, it is hard for visitors to imagine that the district was once plagued by heavy pollution from its fast industrialization, which caused a blue-algae outbreak in nearby Taihu Lake, sparking nationwide criticism.
Economy Goes Green
Located in southern Jiangsu Province, a relatively developed region featuring the cities of Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, and Zhenjiang, Wujin was a leader in the development of township enterprises during the 1980s, building a reputation as the birthplace of the “Southern Jiangsu Mode,” due to its industrialization success through developing township businesses. In the 1990s, however, the district lagged behind in China’s new cycle of economic growth characterized by more export-oriented business.
“Compared with its counterparts in southern Jiangsu, Wujin has inferior natural conditions,” explains Shen Ruiqing, member of the Standing Committee of the Municipal Party Committee of Changzhou and secretary of the District Party Committee of Wujin. “It was a leader in township enterprise development, but this also caused severe environmental problems. The blue algae outbreak in Taihu Lake set off alarms related to local environment protection. We then realized that Wujin could shift its focus from industrial civilization to an ecological civilization. Profits should not always be the top priority during the course of development.”