China pledges concerted efforts in developing water facilities

08:25, July 21, 2011      

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Infrastructure construction across China is advancing by leaps and bounds thanks to the reforms adopted 30 years ago, with a network of expressways, high-speed railways, airports, ports and bridges covering the entire country. The Urban environment has been greatly improved, but the construction of water conservancy facilities still lags behind.

Over the past 30 years since the founding of New China, with a weak economic basis and concerted effort, we have made brilliant achievements in terms of water conservancy. We have built more than 80,000 large and medium-sized reservoirs, reinforced embankments with a total length of 200,000 kilometers, created more than 1 million wells and irrigated some 470,000 square kilometers of arable land.

However, over the past 30 years, there has been little investment in this regard except for the construction of large hydraulic power stations and the south-to-north water diversion project, the farmland irrigation facilities in particular. We cannot be content with out past achievement, and the lack of investment and construction greatly threats the security of grain production.

China is not rich in freshwater resources, with the annual water resources per capita accounting for only one quarter of the world's average. Domestic water demands of urban and rural inhabitants and of industrial usage have increased sharply thanks to the rapid development of industrialization and urbanization. Additionally, the discharge of large amounts of waste water is a common practice in every city across the country. The shortage of water resources has become the bottleneck hindering regional development.

China has a marked continental monsoon climate. Rainfall is not distributed evenly geographically and is mainly concentrated during summer months. The annual rainfall in southeast areas stands at 1,800 millimeters, while in the northwest it is merely 200 millimeters. In addition, the distribution of water resources and farming land is also not even. The area south of the Yangtze River accounts for 33 percent of the country's total farming land but enjoys 83 percent of the country's water resources. By contrast, the area north of the Yangtze River covers 67 percent of national farming land but only has 17 percent of water resources.

Although Jiangnan region, an area covering the lower Yangtze valley, is rich in water resources, it is still not equally distributed due to the seasonal rainfall. Because of lack of water conservancy facilities, the region suffers from the phenomenon of "either drought or floods." The severe drought in southeast China this year caused many rivers to dry up and led to a drinking water crisis for people and livestock. Afterward, rain-triggered floods and drought came one after the other, inundating the whole region.

China's urban construction is changing with each passing day: broad avenues, towering buildings and so on. However, with so much investment in ground construction, the underground drainage system is out of repair. When torrential rain comes, the road is inundated, vehicles submerged and traffic paralyzed.

The Chinese government pledged to intensify construction of water facilities in the next five to ten years, an urgent effort to enhance grain safety and fight drought and floods at a work conference of the central government on water conservancy in Beijing on July 8, 2011. According to the conference, China will establish four systems that can shield the nation from the impact of floods and drought, utilize water efficiency, protect water resources and set up a scientific water conservancy mechanism.

The establishment of four systems depends on our country's superiority of pooling resources of all sides for accomplishing large undertakings and abundant capital support. Meanwhile, we also need to put in a lot of effort on reform.

The CPC Central Committee also put forward five principles at the conference: make people's livelihood a priority; make overall plans and take all factors into consideration; seek harmony between people and water resources; maintain the government's leading role and insist on reform and innovation.

Work conference of the central government on water conservancy this time offered timely help to the cause of water conservancy. It is a population-winning project that benefits the fundamental interest of 1.3 billion Chinese.

China has witnessed the robust growth of comprehensive national strength, national wealth and pubic finance. We need to use the resources where they are needed most and step up efforts to make up for lost time in developing water conservancy facilities.

The author is Zhu Xiangyuan and the article is translated by People's Daily Online editor Zhang Xinyi

 
 
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