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"Clear waters and green mountains are [as valuable as] gold and silver mountains" shown on a billboard in Anji County
Clear waters and green mountains
Traditional Chinese綠水青山
Simplified Chinese绿水青山

Clear waters and green mountains, alternatively green mountains are gold mountains or two mountain theory,[1] refers to a political slogan on environmental policy formulated by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping. The full slogan is "clear waters and green mountains are as valuable as gold and silver mountains" (Chinese: 綠水青山就是金山银山).[2]: 4 [a]

History and usage

Xi Jinping first mentioned the slogan in August 2005 while on tour in Zhejiang as its Party Committee Secretary.[3]

Following the 2012 ascension of Xi as the CCP general secretary (paramount leader), the slogan has been invoked in various contexts domestically and internationally by Chinese officials, complementing existing emphasis on the achievement of ecological civilization.[2]: 4–5  It was given greater emphasis in Chinese state media beginning in 2015, after Xi began to focus more on environmental issues.[4] The slogan was the subject of a short essay question in Beijing for the 2018 gaokao, generating discussion over the suitability of such an explicitly political topic on the test.[5][better source needed]


The Chinese Communist Party-run Beijing Review maintains that the slogan "reflects a people-centered approach to people's wellbeing, an approach that emphasizes the importance of harmony between man and nature, and embodies the unwavering resolve of the Party and the government to preserve and protect the natural environment."[3]

"Clear waters and green mountains" alludes to what Xi observed as phases of economic development in relation to environmentalism. In the first phase, initial industrialization, little regard is given to the environment, which is sacrificed in pursuit of economic growth. As people become more aware of the importance of the environment, they call for its preservation and protection in second phase. Finally, society realizes that "clear waters and green mountains" and "gold and silver mountains" are not mutually exclusive, and in fact the former can bestow the latter.[1]

The slogan implies that economic development must accommodate economic protection.[6]

See also

Other names


  1. ^ The literal translation is "green waters and green mountains are gold mountains and silver mountains."
  1. ^ a b "Green is Gold: Clear Waters and Green Mountains are as Good as Mountains of Gold and Silver". chiculture.org.hk. Academy of Chinese Studies (中國文化研究院). 27 July 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b Geall, Sam (November 2017). "Clear waters and green mountains: Will Xi Jinping take the lead on climate change?". Lowy Institute for International Policy. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ a b "Key Terms to Understand Reform and Opening Up". Beijing Review. 10 January 2019. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  4. ^ Wang, Xiangwei (27 August 2017). "Xi faces one of his greatest tests yet: the environment". South China Morning Post. Following his resounding success in cracking down on corruption and consolidating his power, Xi has since 2015 turned his attention to the environment. China Central Television's 7pm news broadcast is the most watched news programme, through which the Chinese leadership publicises its priorities. Nowadays, it prominently features environment-related stories daily, along with Xi's words 'green mountains and clear water are equal to mountains of gold and silver'.
  5. ^ Tsoi, Grace (8 June 2018). "Is China's college entrance exam testing political loyalty?". Inkstone. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  6. ^ Li, David Daokui (2024). China's World View: Demystifying China to Prevent Global Conflict. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 164. ISBN 978-0393292398.

Further reading