The Guest Room

A Hong Kong blog that does a lot more than blog

New China Hand: All’s Well in Beijing…


Some disturbing news in the international press this week: despite being forbidden, some Beijing residents have resorted to sinking their own wells because of a serious water shortage in parts of the city.

One of the big challenges for managing the rapid growth in China is the provision of resources. Over the last ten or twenty years, demand in China has had a massive impact on global commodity prices of all kinds of raw materials. This blogger recalls power blackouts, carefully managed and timetabled, in factory areas and even suburbs of large towns.

A much bigger issue, though, would be a shortage, or interruption to the supply of commodities vital to life. This is not a new problem in China: the Grand Canal was built to ensure continuity of supplies, especially grain, to Beijing. It’s over a thousand miles long and some parts over 2500 years old!

No commodity can be more vital than water, though, and in a startling show of direct action, some residents on Beijing’s periphery have resorted to hiring drilling crews to sink wells in search of fresh water.

Although a short-term fix, this depletion of the ground water level is likely to exacerbate water shortages in future. But NCH has to ask: what else could they do? It’s not as if going without water is an option!

In the long-run, there’s a fantastically modern Chinese solution to the problem: the unimaginatively-titled “South-North Water Transfer Project”. Doing exactly what it says on the tin, this massive, multi-decade engineering project seeks to divert water from plentiful southern areas to the arid north, using a chain of logic that dates back to Mao Zedong and will dwarf – and encompass – the Grand Canal.

So, in future, residents won’t need to dig a few feet for water: the state will dig a few thousand miles for them.

In the meantime, how about the actions of the residents? Selfish, or unavoidable?

2 comments on “New China Hand: All’s Well in Beijing…

  1. roseinshenzhen
    September 23, 2014

    Cool article!

    • NewChinaHand
      September 24, 2014

      Thanks, roseinshenzhen! I hope your water supply is forever clean, fresh and consistent!

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This entry was posted on September 22, 2014 by in NewChinaHand and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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