Summary of China’s Looming Water Crisis

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China’s Looming Water Crisis summary
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Water scarcity is threatening the social and economic stability in China. Some Chinese officials have warned that water shortages could endanger the country’s very existence. Even the goliath South North Water Transfer Project won’t prove adequate to relieve water scarcity for millions in China’s northern provinces – including the populations of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei. In a thorough and detailed article for Chinadialogue, Charlie Parton, a leading expert on Chinese politics, lays out the facts and outlines a holistic approach to mitigating the impending crisis. Price rationing could cause unemployment and inflation, but Parton argues that the brewing water crisis requires desperate measures.

About the Author

A leading expert on the politics of China, Charlie Parton has advised the United Kingdom and the European Union as well as individual EU member countries on China.



China faces an urgent existential threat in the form of water scarcity. Pollution and inefficient use are exacerbating the problem, but the chief cause lies in the geographic distribution of China’s water resources. Eighty percent of China’s water resides in the south, while the majority of its arable land – as well as 85% of the country’s coal reserves – lies in the north. Already, acute water scarcity afflicts eight northern provinces. Groundwater levels in the north are dropping by up to 3 meters [9.8 feet] per year, causing subsidence that...

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