Ecological protection or industrial development? Huangshan city’s challenge

Huangshan city is a famous tourist site, featuring rich forest resources and beautiful scenic valley views that attract tourists from across the world. According to the statistics of the National Tourism Administration of the People’s Republic of China1 , the total number of tourists in 2011 was 30,543,900, providing the Huangshan city government with approximately 25.102 billion RMB in revenue linked to the tourist industry. This figure is rising at an average rate of 20% per year. However, if one compares the scenic area of Huangshan to the total city area, the Huangshan scenic area represents only 12% of the whole (the total Hunagshang city area is approximately 9,807 km² and the scenic area is 1,200  km²), which means that a large area of Huangshan city is not a scenic tourist spot. In addition, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of Huangshan city was ranked 15th among 16 prefecture-level cities in Anhui Province and amounted to only 10% of the GDP of Hefei city (the GDP for Huangshan city was 37,881 RMB and the GDP for Hefei city was 363,662 RMB). It is therefore clear that Huangshan city must improve its economic output through non-tourist industries.

In 2003, the Huangshan city government proposed “Advice for the Implementation of Industrial and Economic Development,” which indicated that Huangshan city should focus on the development of tourism with the support of industrial development. As a result of industrial development, eight industrial zones are now located in Huangshan city, including the Yixian County Industrial Park (黟县工业园区), the Xiuning Economic Development Zone (休宁经济开发区), and the Huizhou District Economic Park(徽州区经济园). However, the problem of how to protect natural resources and develop industry simultaneously is a challenge for the government of a tourist site such as Huangshan city.

According to the statistics provided by the Huangshan government2 , during the eleventh five-year plan (2006-2010), the total industrial value of Huangshan city increased by approximately 31.7 billion RMB, with an average growth rate of 29.3%. Most industries in Huangshan are in the sectors of electronic information, knitted garments, and the bio-medical industry, with high added value, low pollution, and low emissions. To help integrate tourism and industry, the industrial zones actively produce tourist commodities, such as travel souvenirs and travel supplies, thus complying with the demand of the tourist market. Moreover, the government strictly prohibits high-polluting industries from setting up in Huangshan. According to the Bulletin of environmental quality in Huangshan city3 the current air conditions, quality of drinking water, and noise levels in Huangshan are all satisfactory. However, compared to other prefecture-level cities in Anhui Province, Huangshan city is still at a lower level of development, and is classified as the city with the lowest industrial development in Anhui, which enables Huangshan city to maintain good quality standards for the overall environment. If we compare these results with Hefei, the city with the highest GDP in Anhui, we see that Hefei city’s air quality is judged to be slightly polluted, and the water from Chaohu Lake described as moderately polluted.

Dianchi Lake, François Gipouloux

The water of Dianchi Lake is still undrinkable.

Another example is Kunming city, which is also a city under observation by the Urbachina program. After 1970, the industrial zones and farmland areas around Kunming evacuated waste water into Dianchi Lake, resulting in a significant growth of cyanobacteria and serious eutrophication in Dianchi Lake. Although the Kunming city government has been actively trying to solve the problem of pollution in Dianchi Lake, in order to significantly improve water quality, the lake is still at a pollution level far below the level of drinkable water. Huangshan city, on the other hand, is home to Taiping Lake, which is the largest reservoir in Anhui and possesses good water quality. However, finding a way to actively promote the industrial zones while also protecting the natural ecological environment will be a challenge that the Huangshan city government and other local governments in China will need to deal with.


  1. Zhonghua renmin gongheguo guojia luyou ju 中华人民共和国国家旅游局 (National tourism administration of the people’s republic of china), 2012, Huangshan shi 2012 nian lizheng wancheng jiedai rujing youke 160 wan renci 黄山市2012年力争完成接待入境游客160万人次, Retrieved from , last accessed 13 November 2012. []
  2. Huangshan shi renmin zhengfu xinxi gongkai wang黄山市人民政府信息公开网, 2012, Huangshan shi “shierwu” gongye fazhan guihua黄山市“十二五”工业发展规划, Retrieved from, last accessed 13 November 2012 []
  3. Huangshan shi huanjing baohu ju黄山市环境保护局, 2012, Er ling yiyi nian huangshan shi huanjing zhi liang gongbao 二〇一一年黄山市环境质量公报, , Retrieved from, last accessed 13 November 2012 []

Chi-Han Ai

Ph.D. candidate of EHESS ( École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris) focusing on regional economic development in China and Taiwan.

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