Until 10 years ago, Dalian was an old industrial city in China. Heavy-polluting factories (petroleum, chemical, textile and cement) were scattered throughout the area, and adversely affected residents. In the early 1990s, the City adopted a new ideology of urban development, and found creative ways of protecting the environment.
It achieved this goal by: changing the industrial structure and relocating and upgrading pollution-causing industries; preventing industrial pollution; planting trees; protecting ecosystems; and strengthening legal supervision and management of the environment. Bo Xilai, the mayor of Dalian for eight years, played a leading role in aggressively pursuing this project and ensuring its success. One outstanding achievement was the relocation of 98 pollution-emitting factories from the City to the suburbs. The City convinced businesses to rebuild low-polluting factories and to build modern residential areas with lush parks and green areas. For those factories not relocated, the City invested heavily in each factory to establish pollution-prevention facilities, and included regulations to control the amount of pollutants in the development plans. As a result, one million of Dalian's two million citizens moved to new residential areas.
In 1994, the Government designated the City an Environmental Demonstration Zone. The City proposed that China adopt a master plan for environmental improvement with overseas development assistance from Japan, based on the City of Kitakyushu's experience. Together they undertook a study, which was carried out from 1996 to March 2000. As a result, Dalian included environmental administration and low-polluting manufacturing technologies from Kitakyushu in its policies. The City plans to carry out various environmental projects over the next 10 years and aims to comply with environmental standards equal to those in industrialized countries. The City has gained recognition as one of China's top 10 cities for the integrated control of the urban environment and was honoured as an international Best Model City in the Dubai 2000 competition. The City is also actively promoting improvements in other cities throughout China by hosting the Dalian International Environment Protection Expo.