On March 9th, 2018, Mr. Chen Lei, Minister of Water Resources was interviewed in the so-called "minister's passage" and answered questions from journalists after opening meeting of the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
The question from the Xinhua News Agency was “what progresses have been made since the initiation of River Chief and the Lake Chief systems which are key measures for ecological progress and reform in China, and what results have been achieved so far?”
Chen Lei: “Full implementation of River Chief System is fundamental to reform and deployment decided by the CPC Central Committee. In his 2017 new year’s message, President Xi Jinping said that “all rivers will have river chiefs” from now on. He also raises high standards for the full implementation of River Chief System. Since the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and General Office of the State Council unveiled the Guidance for Full Implementation of River Chief System, Ministry of Water Resources and other lined ministries have taken multiple measures and made joint efforts to promote and accelerate the pace of implementing the system, while local governments also taken solid steps to reinforce pragmatic practices.
“By the end of 2017, River Chief System has been set up in twenty five provinces, and it will establish in other 6 provinces as well as the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps by the end of June this year. Totally, 320,000 river chiefs have been appointed at provincial, municipal, county and township levels. River Chiefs at all levels take the lead in patrolling the rivers, carry out improvement actions and tackle difficult tasks with intensified efforts. As a result, the system has achieved remarkable achievements.”
Chen Lei added that many rivers and lakes have undergone dramatic transformations from “nobody takes responsibility” to “everyone has his clear-cut responsibility”; from “overlapped management” to “integrated management”, from “poor management” to “sound management”. An atmosphere that everybody cares and conserves rivers and lakes has been created that makes them undergoing a dramatic improvements.
After the adoption of Guiding Opinions on Implementation of Lake Chief Systems on December 26th 2017, Ministry of Water Resources, together with other competent ministries and agencies, has committed to implement the system. Among 2865 lakes with an area of more than 1 km2 nationwide, 2180 lakes have already established the Lake Chief System so far. We will further intensify our efforts and strive to promote the River Chief System and Lake Chief System, in order to ensure completion of River Chief System by the end of this June and completion of Lake Chief System by the end of this year.
The journalist from Hubei Radio and Television Station followed with another question, “What is the overall situation of flood control and drought relief in China this year, especially in the Yangtze River Basin? What pre-actions will be taken?”
Minister Chen Lei replied, “Your question is a hot topic that attracts a lot concern from the general public and asked me for several times at the “Ministers’ Passage” in the past three years.” “Due to the impact of global climate change, extreme weather events are frequently occurring. Especially last year and the year before last year, river basins of the Yangtze, the Pearl, Taihu Lake and Second Songhua in the Northeast and Haihe all suffered from flooding.
It is predicted that the overall weather condition of this year may be worse according to the current meteorological and hydrological conditions. Extreme weather events may happen frequently, with floods and droughts occurring at the same time. The numbers of typhoon and landfall are likely to increase, and the impact will be more severe. The Office of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters and Ministry of Water Resources have already worked out plans for flood and typhoon disaster reduction and drought relief. After the Two Sessions, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters will hold the first general meeting for making strategic plans and working layout.