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Premier Vows to Curb Desertification

China should make utmost efforts to control desertification and sandification and rebuild the ecological system, said Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to Minqin County of northwest China's Gansu Province on Monday.

Lying between the two deserts of Tengger and Badain Jaran, Minqin county is the only oasis in that area.

"We should win 'the fight for Minqin' and by no means should we let it vanish from the map," Wen said.

He urged local governments to protect glaciers on upstream Qilianshan Mountain, regulate the water use and plant trees.

Wen also presided over a meeting with experts, model workers and local officials to discuss measures to be taken to curb desertification.

He said the ecological protection in Minqin should be carried out as a national project which has both warning and demonstrating effects on the overall desertification control work in China.

"If we succeed in getting back the oasis in Minqin, we have the capability of getting all the desertificated land under control," he said.

The ground water level of Minqin county has dropped half to one meter in the past 20 years due to the overuse of water resources and Hongyashan Reservoir in Minqin County, the biggest man-made desert reservoir in Asia, is diminishing.

The county is one of the major places where sand storm originates in northwest China, and the reservoir plays a vital role in preventing desertification in the locality.

Some of the villagers have been moved out of the county to other areas, with richer water resources, more than 100 kilometers away from Minqin, in a bid to ease the pressure of water use.

Statistics show that China's deserts are shrinking by 7,585 sq km annually due to the continuous efforts by local governments and people, compared with an annual expansion of 10,400 sq km at the end of last century.

(Xinhua News Agency October 3, 2007)

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