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LEADERSHIP

Chinese name: Liang Congjie

Nationality: Chinese

Ethnicity: Han

Place of birth: Beijing

Year of birth: 1932

Date of death: October 28, 2010

Occupation: scholar, member of the CPPCC National Committee

Graduated from: Peking University

Father: Liang Sicheng

Mother: Lin Huiyin

 

Introduction

Mr Liang Congjie had engaged in education, culture and publishing for many years, also contributed to assembling and compilation of the Encyclopedia of China. In 1988, Liang moved to a new position offered by the privately-held International Academy of Chinese Culture. He dedicated himself to non-government activities of environmental protection since 1993. In March 1994, Liang took the lead in establishing the Friends of Nature, the China’s first environmental non-government organization united by members, which was officially registered under the name Green Culture Institute of the International Academy of Chinese Culture. Serving as president, Mr Liang Congjie was the major organizer and director of various activities in addition to the management of “Friends of Nature”. The following is what the Friends of Nature did during 1994-1999:

 

1 The Friends of Nature held a series of non-government activities of environmental education for the first time in China, organized the “Green Talk” focusing on environmental issues to our members and the general public, which brought together more than 2000 listeners. Also published one of the most widely recognized children’s books on environmental protection i.e. “The Earth as Home” .

    

2 The Friends of Nature first launched non-government environmental education training courses for the primary and secondary school teachers, and organized two trips to Germany and the Netherlands to have field studies on environmental education among youths and teenagers. 

 

3 The Friends of Nature first made a survey on “Environmental Sensibility on Newspapers” in China, the reports relating to environmental issues of major newspapers had been constantly analyzed systematically for three years, the environment sensibility of which were evaluated in a scientific manner.

 

4 Through the CPPCC National Committee, the Friends of Nature offered advice to the relevant departments of the Central Government concerning major environmental issues such as environmental pollution treatment in Beijing and ecological protection of water bodies.

 

5 The Friends of Nature in China first voluntarily sponsored and organized voluntary tree-planting activities in the deserts of Inner Mongolia and northern Shan’xi, which continue to date. 

 

6 The Friends of Nature, to promote the significance of protecting wild birds, established the first amateur bird-watching group in China. 

 

7 The Friends of Nature, by means of direct report to the relevant Central Government leaders, played an active role in the conservation of black snub-nosed monkey as one of the national first-level protected animals in the primeval forests of the Deqin county in northwestern Yunnan province.

 

8 The Friends of Nature actively promoted the importance and urgency of protecting the ecology of the Yangtze River and wildlife (especially the Tibetan antelope) on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, actively supported the anti-poaching activity in Hoh Xil (Kekexili), advised and assisted the government departments to take major measures for protecting Tibetan antelope. 

 

9 To protect ecological resources and stop the dumb trend of large-scale wildlife hunting, the Friends of Nature initiated the proposal of “No Buying/cooking/eating Wildlife” in association with a number of environmental organizations in 1999. 

 

10 The Friends of Nature massively exchanged with foreign environmental protection organizations, promoting China’s environmental policies and non-governmental environmental activities.

 

In addition, Mr Liang Congjie took part in the following activities:

1 Delivered more than 100 speeches on environment protection in universities, elementary and secondary schools. Hosted the “Life Hotline: Environment Column” on RBC (Radio Beijing Corporation) during July to December 1998, which received high critical praise.

 

2 Being interviewed by domestic and foreign newspapers, radio and television stations more than 100 times, published dozens of articles on environmental protection, publicized environmental issues through mass media.   

 

3 As a member of the CPPCC National Committee, Liang delivered a speech titled “A Clarion Call to Enhance Environmental Protection” during the 4th session of the 8th CPPCC National Committee, which was the first keynote speech on environmental issues made by the CPPCC National Committee member. Also put forward proposals concerning environmental issues at the meetings of CPPCC National Committee that he had attended.   

 

4 During Bill Clinton’s visit to China in 1998, as a representative of Friends of Nature and other environmentalists, Mr Liang talked with Bill Clinton in Guilin. During the British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s visit to China, Mr Liang met with Tony Blair and submitted an open letter to him asking the United Kingdom to stop illegal trade on Tibetan antelope fur, Mr Blair responded promptly and showed his support for it. In February 1999, he was invited to the meeting of the European Green Party (EGP), and made a speech introducing the development of China’s environmental policies and the non-governmental environment protection movements.

 

5 In 1995, Mr Liang received the “The Asian Environment Award of 1995” jointly presented by Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun and South Korea’s Chosunilbo in Tokyo. 

 

6 In 1998, Mr Liang was elected as the vice president of China Cultural Relics Academy in 1998 since he had continually provided assistance to the protection of Chinese cultural relics and was an influential person.

 

7 In July 1999, attributing to his contribution to the non-government environmental movement, Liang received the Earth Award of 1999 co-presented by China Forum of Environmental Journalists and Friends of the Earth (Hong Kong). 

 

8 In December 1999, in recognition of his contribution to environmental education and the protection of wildlife for the years , Mr Liang Congjie received the Earth Prize from the China Forum of Environmental Journalists in addition to the Panda Award from the State Forestry Administration.

 

9 In August 2000, Mr Liang Congjie was recognized with the Ramon Magsaysay Award (the Philippines), which was named after the former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay and acclaimed as the most prestigious award for the prominent contributors in social activities, some western media hailed it as the Nobel Prize of Asia.

 

4 o’ clock in the afternoon of October 28, 2010 was a moment deserved to be remembered in the history of China’s environmental protection. 

 

At the moment, the founder of Friends of Nature, the pioneer of environmental protection among Chinese citizens, who was affectionately known as “son of nature”, died of disease at the age of 78 in Beijing.  

 

At the moment, the entire environmental community was shocked and saddened.

 

An official of the State Environmental Protection Administration wrote an elegiac couplet as follows, “(He) went hither and thither to call for it, clarified the chaos in the world; taught by precept and example as the first of non-government environmentalist. By protecting the Tibetan antelope and establishing the bird-watching group, (he) did a remarkable job; by picking up garbage and planting grasses and trees, (his) mind was purely spotless”. 

 

Gao Zhong, president of the Clean Water Alliance, wrote the following elegiac couplet, “Born to a family of three generations of elite,  (he was) a righteous friend of nature, a public welfare model; (he) had clean hands and went hither and thither; (we) mourn for such a spiritual leader”.

 

Environmental Work

Mr Liang had constantly committed to environmental protection in particular the protection of the natural forest of Hongya in the western Sichuan province in addition to the protection of black snub-nosed monkey in the  primeval forest of northwestern Yunnan province. He also engaged in the protection of Tibetan antelope and the anti-poaching activities in Hoh Xil.

 

In October 1998, Mr Liang submitted an open letter to the British prime minister Tony Blair during his trip to China asking the United Kingdom to stop the illegal Tibetan antelope fur trade. Mr Blair responded promptly that he would forward the request to the environmental authorities in the United Kingdom and the European Union, he also showed his hope for ending such an illegal trade. To protect Tibetan antelope, Mr Liang motivated all members of Friends of Nature to support the anti-poaching organization “Western Wild Yak Group”. By the end of 1998, Friends of Nature raised 400,000 yuan for the “Western Wild Yak Group” in support of their protection of Tibetan antelope and the organization’s operation. Mr Liang, at the age of 67, reached the 4000-meter-high Kunlun Mountain and in person burned the 400 Tibetan antelope fur collected.

 

In 2002, Mr Liang asked the global economic giants at the Fortune forum, “As you are much concerned about the market share, it’s not enough for the billions of Chinese people to live the life as you do even though the all of the world’s energy is supplied. This is a disaster to both China and the world. Have you ever thought about the responsibilities you are supposed to take? ”

 

Everything should be made as simple as possible, this was the lifestyle Mr Liang had chosen when he made a pinky promise long time ago. His business cards were printed on the recycled paper, he refused to use disposable chopsticks, chose bicycle as the vehicle. He was once stopped by the security guard at the gate on his way to the meeting of the CPPCC National Committee by bicycle. The security guard reportedly hadn’t ever seen or heard about that any member of the CPPCC National Committee arrived at the meeting by bicycle. As one of Mr Liang’s friends recalled, during a field trip with the members of the CPPCC National Committee, at the sight of some members’ throwing the water bottles away from the window, Mr Liang Congjie immediately asked to stop the car and went off to pick up the discarded bottles, and declared that “Bottles must be recycled”.

 

As Mr Liang used to recall, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, he and his family had a tough life in the village of Sichuan where they temporarily resided. His mother, in spite of the difficulties, provided him with knowledge of Michelangelo Buonarroti and Ludwig van Beethoven, and read “A Sportsman’s Sketches” with him. His father taught him to paint and make various toys. In those toughest days, his parents finished  a series of classic masterpieces including “History of Chinese Architecture”. Mr Liang was largely impressed by such a life then, in his words, “Our life then was full of laughter, and we were spiritually rich enough”. Longing for a good life, he thought, was quite understandable, however, it would be a crime against the Nature if succeeded at the sacrifice of destroying or disregarding the ecology.