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Insight: Water challenges facing China

01-31-2011 08:50 BJT

For more information on this year's Number One document, we're now joined in the studio by our reporter Guan Xin.

Q1: This is the first time for the Number One Central Document to focus on water conservation, highlighting the urgency of the country's supply issues. Can you give us more details on the challenges China faces in this realm?

A1: Right. A shortage of water is one of the most severe issues that China is facing. Let me give you some figures. China has 20 percent of the world's population, but only 7 percent of global water resources. The per capita water volume in China is one-quarter of the world's average. This problem is compounded by a huge regional disparity.

Southern China has a relative abundance of water. But north of the Yangtze River, more than 60 percent of the nation's territory has less than 20 percent of its water resources. This year, things seem even worse. Here in Beijing, there has been no rainfall in nearly 100 days.

In fact, last year's droughts and floods in the country were the worst since 1998. That's a big threat to agricultural security. We've seen those disasters pushing up food costs this year, a big contributor to Consumer Price Index hikes. So it's high time for the government to take action on water security.

Q2: That's a daunting task. Officials say investment in water conservation from 2011 to 2020 will reach 4 trillion yuan. What are the priorities for such a big investment?

A2: Yes. We can see on screen that, in recent years, China's investment in water infrastructure has been steadily rising. The country spent around 200 billion yuan on water conservation in 2010. The government says it will double that effort, with annual investment reaching 400 billion yuan in the next 10 years.

The first priority is rural water resource facilities. That's because 65% of the country's total water usage goes to agriculture. But less than half actually reaches crops, as a result of pipe leaks, evaporation, and other issues, due to outdated rural water facilities. In addition, authorities want to improve drought relief and flood prevention projects.

Droughts and floods caused 205 billion yuan in losses in 2009. Official figures for 2010 are not available yet, but many expect the numbers to be even higher. Finally, ecological construction for water resource protection will be emphasized. The government will also raise the cost of water. Officials say current water prices are too low, and don't reflect the scarcity of the resource.

WATER PER CAPITA: 2,220 Cubic Meters 1/4 of World Average

Land Coverage Water Resource

North of the Yangtze: 63.5% 19.1%

South of the Yangtze: 36.5% 80.8%


2007 94.5 billion yuan

2008 108.8 billion yuan

2009 189.4 billion yuan

2010 200 billion yuan (estimated)

2011-2020 400 billion yuan/year (estimated)

Editor:Zhang Jingya |Source: CNTV.CN

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