Patrol boat crews check the Yangtze River in Wuhan, Hubei province, last month after the introduction of a 10-year fishing ban on the waterway. [Photo/Xinhua] Nation's mother river undergoes major cleanup The Yangtze has fed people living along its banks with a wealth of natural resources for thousands of years. One of the cradles of Chinese civilization, it is the nation's mother river. Hailed as a major economic engine, the Yangtze River Economic Belt, which comprises nine provinces and two municipalities, accounts for more than 40 percent of the country's population and GDP. However, economic development has resulted in conflict between progress and conservation. Environmental issues such as overfishing, water pollution and soil erosion have affected the river and residents. In recent years, the Yangtze has started to witness a green renaissance. The turning point came at a symposium in Chongqing on Jan 5, 2016, when President Xi Jinping said a key strategy for the country was to boost green growth in the Yangtze River Economic Belt. Xi said the river's status meant that priority for progress made along the waterway must be given to ecological development to respect natural, economic and social rules. He said restoring the environment along the Yangtze should be a major long-term priority, adding that protecting the river requires coordination and avoiding overexploitation. In November, another symposium chaired by Xi on comprehensively advancing development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt was held in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. This gathering highlighted high-quality development, green growth, opening-up and self-innovation. During the meeting, Xi called for a comprehensive improvement in the efficient use of resources and for accelerated green and low-carbon development.