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Viral Video Reveals China’s Famous Yuntai Waterfall To Be Artificially Supplied

Alina Wang
A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights, politics, tech, and society.
Published: June 5, 2024
A viral video circulating online appears to show the waterfall's majestic flow being artificially maintained by a concealed water pipe. (Image: Gary Todd via Wikimedia Commons)

The Yuntai Waterfall, nestled in the picturesque Yuntai Mountain Park in China’s Henan Province, has gone viral on Chinese social media — but not for its natural beauty. 

A video circulating online appears to show the waterfall’s majestic flow being artificially maintained by a concealed water pipe. The revelation has sparked a debate about the authenticity of tourist attractions and the transparency of park management practices. 

Yuntai Mountain Park, a highly popular tourist destination, boasts an AAAAA rating — the highest accolade awarded by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The park’s website poetically describes the Yuntai Waterfall, which is the tallest in China, as “the Milky Way flying down.” However, the video suggests that during the dry season, the waterfall’s grandeur might be supplemented by an artificial water source.

The video, which has been shared over 48,000 times, sparked a flood of social media comments. This prompted park officials to issue a statement on June 5 attributing the issue to seasonal factors and acknowledging a “small enhancement during the dry season.”

Feeling cheated

In response, the park’s management issued a statement explaining the necessity of augmenting the waterfall during periods of low rainfall. “The waterfall cannot guarantee to meet the public in its most beautiful appearance due to season changes,” the statement read. 

(Image: Screenshot via X)

However, management also admitted to making “small improvements” to ensure the waterfall’s continuous flow. They also expressed gratitude for the public’s attention and reassured visitors that the waterfall would present itself in its “most perfect and most natural form” during peak summer months. 

But the video has elicited mixed reactions from the public. While some were shocked by the revelation, others took a more lenient view. 

“The source of a waterfall is not what people came to see anyway, I don’t think it counts as lying to the public,” commented one user on Weibo, a popular blogging and social media site in China. Another user added, “You are there to see a peacock flaunting his tail, not to focus on the peacock’s butt.”

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​​“The main thing is that the water pipe is so crudely installed, others at least disguise it in a superior way,” wrote another user on Weibo. 

Standard practice?

The practice of enhancing waterfalls is not unique to Yuntai. China’s varied monsoon climate poses challenges for maintaining consistent water flow in natural attractions. The Huangguoshu Waterfall in Guizhou Province faced similar issues. In order to address the problem of seasonal drying, a dam was constructed in 2004 to ensure a steady water supply. The local government praised the dam, stating it would “put an end to the history of Huangguoshu Waterfall drying up.”

Still, the incident at Yuntai Waterfall highlights broader concerns about transparency and authenticity in Chinese tourist attractions. While the park management’s intention in maintaining the waterfall’s aesthetic appeal is understandable, the lack of upfront disclosure has raised questions.

The situation also reflects a recurring theme in Chinese governance and public life, where transparency and honesty are often scrutinized. “The move does not respect the laws of nature nor the visitors,” wrote one netizen in response to the video. 

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Lack of transparency

In recent years, Chinese authorities have faced multiple accusations of dishonesty and lack of transparency across various sectors. From environmental issues and business projects to public health and safety, the Chinese government has been criticized for its handling and reporting of sensitive matters.

The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, brought global attention to China’s initial response and information dissemination. Allegations of data manipulation and delayed reporting fueled skepticism about the reliability of official statements.

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Similarly, environmental policies and practices have come under fire. In some instances, air quality data has been questioned, with accusations that readings are artificially lowered to present a more favorable image. 

The management of natural resources, including water and forests, has also been a point of contention. Environmentalists have also noted concerns about overexploitation of natural resources coupled with inadequate conservation efforts.