President Xi Jinping highlighted the importance of ecological protection and warned of "meaningless development at the cost of the environment".
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks while meeting with riverbank residents in Nanning, capital city of South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Thursday afternoon.
Xi asked residents on the banks of the Nakao River about the changes to the riverside environment as well as how they felt about living there. The residents responded that they were delighted to live in such a scenic area and Xi said that the river's ecological improvement should be decided by the people.
The president pointed out that ecological civilization is among the five priorities put forward by the Communist Party of China during its 18th national congress in 2012.
Building ecological civilization is not only in line with Chinese traditional culture, but also the need for the country's modernization, Xi said.
Development at the cost of the environment is meaningless, he said, adding that protecting the ecology and harmonious development should be the principle upheld in every area of the country's development.