BEIJING, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- From electric cars to garbage recycling, China's green path has provided inspiration and opportunities for global environmental protection enterprises.
The output of the energy saving, environmental protection and recycling industries in China totaled over 4.5 trillion yuan (681 billion U.S. dollars) in 2016, and eco-friendly investment from 2016 to 2020 is expected to top 17 trillion yuan nationwide, according to published statistics.
"Energy and environmental protection firms in the U.S. have seen market opportunities in China, and are willing to invest in China," said Devinder Mahajan, professor at Stony Brook University, at the 3rd Sino-U.S. Energy and Environment Forum held early this month.
For U.S. auto giant Ford, business opportunities lie in China's huge market for new energy vehicles.
"China is taking the lead in the electric vehicle market as there is a real government push to clear the air," said Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, at the 2017 Fortune Global Forum this month.
The U.S. car maker announced a joint venture with China's Anhui Zotye Automobile to produce and sell electric cars in China, with plans to launch 15 electric car models in the country by 2025.
"China's program to electrify road transport has set an example for the world in green development approaches," said Erik Solheim, executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
While foreign firms eye opportunities on China market, Chinese enterprises have cooperated with foreign counterparts in seeking green development.
As the contractor of Reppie, Africa's first waste-to-energy incineration plant in Ethiopia, the China National Electric Engineering Company introduced its technology and machinery to help the country's capital incinerate 1,400 tonnes of waste per day, roughly 80 percent of the city's rubbish. The plant is due to begin operating in January next year, according to the UNEP website.
A total of 44 China's environmental protection firms have signed 149 contracts with 54 countries so far, covering areas of solid waste management, water treatment and soil remediation, according to the E20 Institute of Environment Industry.
UNEP Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw said that China had become a major contributor of clean technologies around the world, which would benefit developing countries.
Feng Liang, a senior official with the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a forum that China's green industry would enjoy growing popularity in the global market against a backdrop of international capacity cooperation and continued government support.
"China's green industry will gain a larger share overseas and embrace a golden era," Feng said.
The progress cannot be made without a series of campaigns that China has launched to fight pollution and environmental degradation, as decades of growth have left the country with smog, polluted water and contaminated soil.
Addressing environmental governance at an unprecedented level, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has incorporated "Beautiful China" into its two-stage development plan for building a great modern socialist country,according to the report delivered at the 19th CPC National Congress in October.
The toughest-ever environmental protection law was passed, and a "river chief" system was introduced to purify water. The government has drawn red lines in certain regions to strengthen environmental protection.
China has also been phasing out unclean and inefficient coal-fired boilers, setting up new monitoring stations for air, water and soil protection, and working to build a clean, low-carbon, safe and efficient modern energy system.
The effort has paid off. A total of 84 major cities met air quality targets in 2016, whereas the number was just three in 2013. The proportion of severely polluted surface water declined to 8.6 percent in 2016.
China's Saihanba Afforestation Community scooped the annual UN Champions of the Earth Award for its outstanding contribution to restoration of degraded landscapes.
"It proves that environmental challenges are not problems, but opportunities. This work is an inspiration to China and the world," said Erik Solheim, hailing the Saihanba Afforestation Community.