By Horace Lu
Chinese officials have warned that the world’s second largest economy is facing acute water shortages and that the problem is worsening on a daily basis, according to the China News Service.
Vice Minister of China’s Water Resource Ministry Hu Siyi (胡四一) said China’s water resources per capita stands at only 28% of the world average, during a press conference hosted by the State Council’s Information Office.
Hu also said two thirds of Chinese cities are facing water shortages and another 300 million people in rural areas have no access to safe drinking water.
Apart from water shortages, the Vice Minister listed three other challenges the country faces: poor water utility efficiency, over-development in water resources which has led to a series of ecological problems, as well as sprawling pollution.
Beijing is now trying to tackle the issue by limiting consumption, controlling pollution and increasing its monitor of water bodies. The government has also planned to spend 4 trillion yuan ($638bln) in the next ten years on rural irrigation, flood control, water supply and conservation.
However, China’s vulnerability in water is not likely to change overnight. A toxic heavy metal spill that occurred recently in Guangxi province highlighted the massive problems the country has to deal with.
The cadmium spill, which was covered up by local officials, contaminated more than 200 miles of river water and sent the whole region into a state of panic.
Meanwhile, drought has occurred regularly in Southwest China for years, and has devastated people’s lives and agricultural production. And in the Sichuan city of Zigong, over 700,000 residents are currently having difficulties in obtaining water.