Statistics about China confirm the explosive pace at which the country has been developing in different areas over recent years. The whole world is keeping a close watch on the emerging super-power and its impact on the planet. The intensive spurt in Chinese industry and business doesn’t happen without costs to the environment.
Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported a recently developed cooperation between China and the EU. Both have joined efforts to work on a scheme for the sustainable use of water resources. China’s large population of 1.3 billion, coupled with rapid industrial and economic developments, have led to serious environmental side effects, such as pollution and water shortage. Natural resources have been under strain to keep up with the enormous leap the country has made in various areas. Statistics on the annual GDP growth rate in China in 2011, for example, show the rate standing at 9.2 percent.
As the Deutsche Welle article reports, China presented new projects related to developing water technology. And new projects are in demand, as some previous ones have not exactly been a success, such as the Three Gorges Dam. However, there are also activists within the country, not just politicians traveling abroad to secure international support, who are energetic in their efforts to protect the environment. One such example is Ma Jun, an author that recently won the Goldman Environmental Prize for his efforts in bringing transparency and attention to Chinese environmental issues, pertinently a book about China’s water issues. The Deutsche Welle article quotes Thomas Stratenwerth from the German ministry of environment, “It is interesting to observe this from a political point of view, but from the perspective of German companies it is a problem. The Chinese are beginning to supply developed technologies at affordable prices that German companies have to compete with.”
Of course, China wants to present a good face to receive successful support from the EU for its new projects. The country’s current active stance on water and environmental policy doesn’t change the fact that there are problems to deal within the country. According to the article, China has access to seven percent of the world’s fresh water resources, despite the numbers of its population demanding a much larger supply of water.
A recent event launched in Marseille called the China Europe Water Platform. The platform will replace another program, the “EU-China River Basin Management Programme” (RBMP), which had already received some 33 million dollars from Europe Aid. The Chinese call the new platform for water policy not an aid project, but a definite partnership, to which they are also contributing financial support. The article reiterates this idea, stating that water management is relatively new to China. Calculations on how much pollution Chinese rivers can take and what cities and companies should be more closely monitored, with all the new production going on, are being suggested. In fact, China is leaning heavily on the EU for advice and support on policies that have long since been standard in the Union, but are new for the country.
The article quotes Chen Lei, China’s Minister for Water Resources, as rejecting previous criticism from the EU on China’s so far lax approach to water policy. He said China is “a global partner for water solutions.” The minister promised 300 million people in China’s rural areas clean drinking water by 2013.
The scheme is a crucial step to ensure China’s economic development will not destroy the country’s or Planet Earth’s environment.