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Why Are Half of the Rivers in China Disappearing?

The people of China have witnessed extensive damage to their environment, especially air pollution in major cities. (Image:  egorgrebnev  via  flickr  CC BY 2.0 )
The people of China have witnessed extensive damage to their environment, especially air pollution in major cities. (Image: egorgrebnev via flickr CC BY 2.0 )

The first national water census conducted by the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources revealed that rivers are disappearing in China at an alarming rate of 1,000 per year. Half of the rivers with catchment areas over 100 square kilometers have disappeared.

Environmentalists blame over-exploitation of natural resources, as well as unsustainable development policies. The issue has attracted international attention regarding China’s deteriorating environment.

Beijing’s environmental protection officials admitted that the main reason for the decreasing number of rivers is the excessive development of the rivers. This includes over usage of groundwater reserves, the destruction of the environment, and deforestation. Fan Xiao, water expert and chief engineer of the Sichuan Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, believes China’s river issues are a reflection of a problem on a larger scale. If it continues, the damage will become irreversible.

Current development in China is unsustainable and is being achieved at the cost of excessive consumption of natural resources. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Current development in China is unsustainable, and is being achieved at the cost of excessive consumption of natural resources. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The United Nations has listed China as one of the 13 countries most affected by water scarcity. Water has become a significant conservation issue. Official state data shows that effluent discharge has led to 40 per cent of China’s rivers being seriously polluted, and the water quality of 20 per cent of the rivers is unsuitable for human use.

Fan Xiao believes the communist regime’s policy of pursuing quick successes without regard to the environment is the main cause of environmental deterioration. Fan Xiao noted that the current development in China is unsustainable, and is being achieved at the cost of excessive consumption of natural resources.

The pollution of some rivers is also causing significant concern. In 2013, more than 16,000 dead pigs were discovered in the Huangpu River. In addition, thousands of dead ducks were found in a Sichuan river. This led to public discontent over the threat to water quality. In 2013, Shanghai residents protested over the ineffective handling of the “dead pigs” incident by authorities.

(Image: International Rivers via flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The United Nations has listed China as one of the 13 countries most affected by water scarcity. (Image: International Rivers via flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

China’s leadership has pledged more transparent pollution policies. It is believed that the pollution issue has become an issue of unrest for authorities. The disappearance of rivers poses both a social threat and a threat to China’s environment.

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