Category: Beijing Water

Chinese data hint at trigger for fatal quake

Seismic activity started to rise just as two giant reservoirs on the upper Yangtze were being filled with water. Nature magazine reports on the latest findings by Chinese geologist Fan Xiao, published by Probe International, on the link between mega-dams and seismic activity in China’s southwestern region.

China’s new environmental law looks good … on paper

(April 24, 2014) Chinadialogue’s Beijing editor Liu Jianqiang reviews China’s newly revised environmental protection law which comes into effect in 2015 and represents the first time the law has been revised in 25 years. The new law provides authorities with the tools to dole out harsher punishments and sanctions to polluters, including more heat for officials found to be falsifying data and ducking environmental impact assessments. Under the new law, individual citizens still will not be able to initiate public interest lawsuits and although NGOs will be able to pursue litigation, the number permitted to do so has been capped, most likely in order to prevent a flood of environmental lawsuits in local courts and local authorities from being sued too frequently — which raises the question: what is the point of the law? In any case, says Mr. Liu, China’s environmental problems cannot be blamed solely on the lack of a powerful law but are more “the consequence of weak implementation and failure to hold officials accountable for rampant pollution and ecological destruction. … What good is perfect legislation if our authorities fail to implement it? China’s new law cannot answer this question.”

Senior official of State Council died from falling off building

(April 1, 2014) Li Wufeng, the high-level Chinese minister who died after falling from the 6th floor of his office last month, once briefly served as the assistant general manager of China Three Gorges Project Corporation (CTGPC), the recent target of a two-month corruption probe that angered the Chinese public with its revelations of bidding irregularities, bribery and excessive spending by corporation officials. Li’s sudden death has caused much speculation. A CTGPC insider is quoted in this report as saying meddling by CTGPC leaders and their families in bidding for company projects and interest transfers was an “open secret” and that “even individual retired cadres were involved in the countless corruptions. Now everyone at the CTGPC is in a panic, because everyone was involved.”

Three Gorges Dam not affected by tremor

(March 28, 2014) Once again, an earthquake has hit the Three Gorges reservoir area and dam officials are reassuring the public that the world’s largest hydropower plant is operating normally. The epicenter of a 4.3-magnitude earthquake struck Zigui County, just 30 km from the Three Gorges Dam at 12:20 a.m. March 27, 2014. Stay tuned while Probe International investigates the cause and effect of this latest tremor.

China is so bad at conservation that it had to launch the most impressive water-pipeline project ever

(March 17, 2014) Reporter Lily Kuo takes an in-depth look at China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project — the world’s largest water diversion conceived originally by Mao Zedong as a way to relieve North China’s dwindling water resources by “borrowing” from the south of the country. But not even the project’s leaders are pretending the mammoth, ultra-complex, $80-billion scheme will solve China’s water problem. Moreover, it has already created extra problems. Kuo concludes the project is another example of an engineer-dominated government’s fondness for huge-scale vanity projects with a particular weakness for mega-water works. No wonder. Without the man-made institutions — a robust regulatory regime and the rule of law — the Chinese government is bereft of tools to induce the efficient use (and conservation) of water. And so it builds canals and moves water from one watershed to another, creating havoc and perpetuating the problem of China’s crippling water crisis.

China’s desperate need for water is forcing the relocation of hundreds of thousands of people

(March 17, 2014) Part two of Lily Kuo’s substantial overview of China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project (SNWDP) and its resettlement process. Kuo notes that since 1949, more than 45 million Chinese have been displaced by infrastructure projects and, of those, 12 million have been moved for water schemes. The water projects, she notes, have a particularly depressing record in terms of outcomes for the resettled. Although there are signs, she says, of villagers moved for the SNWDP receiving better care than those in the past, the same old resettlement problems abound. Worst of all, there are no farms to tend and jobs to do. “This isn’t a life,” says one migrant of the soul-destroying joblessness. “In the morning, you see everyone sleeps in. In the afternoon, they play cards. That’s it.”

China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project threatens flood of problems

(October 28, 2013) This excellent report by Agence France-Presse looks at the growing number of drawbacks posed by China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project and asks whether the $80-billion geo-engineering giant is creating more problems than it is supposed to solve. For example, the strong risk of collecting and distributing tainted water from the supply waterways it draws from, which would render the water carried unusable; the energy required to move water uphill for long sections; the displacement of entire communities in large numbers for reservoir construction, as well as the construction feats required to pull off certain aspects of the project’s plans – such as blasting channels through mountains in earthquake zones on the Tibetan plateau. Not to mention the threat posed by construction of this scale in seismically active zones.

China faces its worst economic crisis: water

(July 3, 2013) Water woes ranging from polluted drinking water to contaminated groundwater reserves and toxic rivers, to cross-border water disputes with neighbours over transboundary river flows, is moving China towards a catastrophe with “profound implications.” In testimony to the U.S. Senate last week, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Asia director Elizabeth Economy names industry as the key culprit. The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch.com reports.