China’s top legislature deliberates on law for improved conservation of Yellow River

On 1 March 2021, China brought into effect a law to protect the Yangtze River, the country’s longest river.

Now, a new draft law on the protection of the Yellow River, the “mother river” of the Chinese nation, has submitted to the ongoing session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee for deliberation on 20 Dec 2021.

The draft law proposes multiple measures, including the launch of a fishing ban in key waters of the Yellow River Basin and the establishment of nature reserve areas, to restore the river’s ecological environment.

Qiankun Bay of the Yellow River, China. /VCG Photo

Relevant departments of the State Council shall carry out regular surveys of natural resources, such as minerals, forests and wetlands as well as wild animals and their habitats, in the Yellow River Basin, the draft law reads.

The departments should also work with provincial-level governments in the Yellow River Basin to protect and restore the damaged habitats of critically endangered wildlife species and establish wildlife gene banks, according to the draft law.

The state will strengthen the protection of snow-capped mountains, glaciers, grasslands and wetlands at the source of the river and its main branches, according to the document.

Moreover, the draft law prohibits building or expanding chemical projects within a certain range along the main branches of the Yellow River to prevent hazardous pollution.

It also urges governments at the county level and above in the Yellow River Basin to advance household waste treatment systems and promote the prevention and remediation of soil pollution in the Yellow River Basin.

Furthermore, the efficient utilization of water resources is emphasized in the draft law. It strictly limits the building of high-water-consumption projects in the Yellow River Basin and encourages the recycling of industrial wastewater.

The state will encourage the construction of new types of infrastructure, including communication networks and data centers, in the Yellow River Basin to fuel high-quality development, the draft law says.

To promote the development of Yellow River culture, the draft law calls for the construction of a Yellow River national cultural park.

It also puts forward measures to protect cultural relics and advance tourism in the Yellow River Basin. [NPC]

Court to protect Yellow River established in Shanxi

In September 2021, the first ecological protection circuit court established by the provincial-level high people’s court in the Yellow River basin.

The establishment of the circuit court aims to create an organ for law enforcement, through the coordination of administrative law enforcement and judicial protection. It will promptly investigate and deal with water violations in the Yellow River, as well as quickly handle cases concerning the destruction of the ecology and the environment of the Yellow River in accordance with the law.

The Yellow River Wanjiazhai Reservoir Area Ecological Protection Circuit Court was established on Sept 18 in the Wanjiazhai Reservoir Area, administered by Xinzhou city in North China’s Shanxi province.

The Wanjiazhai Reservoir section of the Yellow River is located at the junction of North China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region, Northwest China’s Shaanxi province and Shanxi province. The water environment there is complex, with cases of damage to the Yellow River’s ecology occuring frequently.

Swans rest in wetlands of the Yellow River in Bayannuur, Inner Mongolia autonomous region. [Photos by Qi Hongyan/for]

Over the past two years, Shanxi High People’s Court and Shanxi Yellow River Affairs Bureau have established the first ecological and environmental judicial protection base in the middle reaches of the Yellow River. They have carried out joint river patrols and publicity campaigns on the rule of law, promoting ecological protection and the eco-friendly development of the Yellow River basin in Shanxi. [SPC]


National Peoples Congress, 21-Dec-2021.

Supreme People’s Court, 2021-09-28.