Beijing Water

Water: The next challenge for China’s new leaders?

(November 20, 2012) China’s new leadership faces a number of challenges as the country enters an economic slowdown after decades of economic boom. One of the most pressing obstacles to its continued growth is water, and the lack of it. A report by Geoff Hiscock for CNN warns that China’s water vulnerability makes the country less able to withstand shocks like inflation, droughts or other natural disasters. Unless steps are taken to overhaul its water usage and supply and green its industrial operations, Hiscock says, “China risks social dislocation that could undo much of its progress.” The following report by Olga Khazan for the Washington Post provides a rundown of the water stresses China’s changing of the guard will inherit.

By Olga Khazan for the Washington Post, November 15, 2012

Now that the 18th Communist Party Congress is over, China’s new leadership team turns its attention to tackling the problem of the country’s slowing economy.

China faces a number of challenges, including dependence on exports and weak domestic consumption, but one of the most pressing issues is a risk of severe water shortages.A map from research firm Maplecroft shows that four Chinese provinces are at “extreme risk” of lacking enough water. China contains only 7 percent of the world’s potable water but must feed almost 20 percent of the world’s population, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Meanwhile, its people are living longer and eating more, especially more water-intensive food, such as meat and dairy.

Writing at CNN, Geoff Hiscock points out that the country’s precarious water situation makes it less able to withstand shocks like inflation, droughts or other natural disasters:

The speed of the middle class consumption boom is so swift that unless China takes decisive steps soon to re-engineer its food and water usage patterns and supply chains, and commits to a massive greening of its industrial landscape, it risks social dislocation that could undo much of its progress.

The situation so serious that it has the potential to further limit economic growth by constraining business and hampering agricultural outputs, Maplecroft writes.

Continue reading this article in full, here.

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