During the annual political sessions, environmental protection was definitely among the biggest concerns. Actually, it was also an issue that ancient Chinese paid great attention to. In fact, the world's earliest environmental protection concept, ministry and legislation were all born in China. So, how did the ancient Chinese protect the environment?
The world's earliest concept of "managing state affairs through environmental protection"
In early ancient China, environmental protection was promoted to the political level. Xunzi, a famous thinker in Warring States Period, brought up the concept of "managing state affairs through environmental protection". He stated in his book that vegetations should not be damaged at will.
Guan Zhong, an official 400 years ahead of Xunzi, was also an environmental protection expert. During his term of office, he claimed that "a King who cannot protect his vegetations is not qualified to be a king."
The world's earliest "environmental protection ministry"
According to a record in Qing dynasty, the environmental protection ministry in early ancient China was called "Yu", standing both for the institution and the official title. Although most part of its function was similar to such ministrys today, its administration scope was much larger, including the mountains, forests, rivers, lakes and so on.
The nine ministries established by Shun, an ancient Chinese emperor, already included "Yu", the environmental protection ministry. The first "Yu" official was a man called Boyi, the earliest environmental protection minister. Record can be found in certain history documents.
Boyi was indeed an environmental protection expert, and a good minister. He was a capable assistant to Dayu, an ancient Chinese water-control expert. He invented wells, protecting people's drinking water from pollution. He knew a lot about animals and also called for animal protection.The Book of Mountains and Seaswas also composed by him.
The world's earliest "environmental protection legislation"
Environmental protection legislation can be traced back to the ruling period of Dayu, which was more than 4000 years ago. During his reign, he issued a ban, forbidding people to chop wood in March or catch fish in June, the time when they were supposed to flourish.
In Spring and Autumn and Warring States Period almost 3000 years ago, "environmental protection legislation" appeared in its true sense in Qin, which was recorded inLaw of Fieldsand regarded as China's earliest "environmental protection legislation".
Many environmental protection rules can be found inLaw of Fields, among which two interesting ones stood out: firstly, river course should not be blocked; secondly, grass and trees should not be burned to be fertilizer except for summer. The last one is inspiring even for today. It can help avoid air pollution and reduce the rampant haze.
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