The e-commerce group Alibaba has launched an initiative to tackle water pollution encouraging its internet users to buy testing devices from its e-commerce store and measure water quality across the country. The results can be uploaded to a digital map. Although the government hasn’t confirmed it, it is probable that it has given the green light to the initiative. Otherwise it would be difficult to imagine such a bold move from the internet giant.
Encouraging netizens to publicly denounce environmental issues seems a priori an excellent tool to detect irregularities throughout the country. However, denouncers will have to make sure the device works properly before uploading results to the web. A judicial interpretation issued last month allows the jailing of any individual who spreads rumors or makes defamatory comments online (which are reposted 500 times). Web 2.0 put to good use, hopefully.
Economy, Elizabeth and Michael Levi (2014). By all means necessary : how China’s resource quest is changing the world. Oxford : Oxford University Press. 288 p. ISBN : 9780199921782.
China’s spectacular rise over the past three decades is nothing short of monumental, and is one of the most important events in modern history. Its economic growth affects nations around the world, environmentally, politically and militarily. In By All Means Necessary, Elizabeth Economy and Michael Levi explore the unrivaled expansion of the Chinese economy and what has been required to sustain this meteoric growth.
In the past twenty five years China has transformed from an impoverished country where peasants comprised the largest portion of the populace, by far, to a country of innovation, entrepreneurs and more millionaires than anywhere else in the world. In the beginning, that growth was fueled by internal resources, but like every other major power in modern history China was forced to look outward to find the massive quantities of resources needed to maintain their economic expansion. It is now engaged in a far flung quest around the world for fuel, water, and land for farming, while their military secures sea lanes and focuses on advanced military technologies to protect their interests abroad.
By All Means Necessary is a comprehensive account of where China’s pursuit of raw materials may take them in the coming years-a crucial issue, not just for China, but for the whole world.
Scott Moore is Giorgio Ruffolo Doctoral Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. He was a guest researcher at Brookings’ John L. Thornton China Center and Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy in the spring of 2012.
Among the many challenges to China’s current economic development trajectory, water resource constraints are among the most worrisome. According to Barry Naughton, one of the foremost experts on the Chinese economy, “China’s greatest development challenges…are in the areas where a dense population pushes up against the limits of water and what the land can provide.” The water resource challenge to China’s development is exceptionally complex, encompassing a blend of geographical, political, economic, and social dimensions. This Issue Brief describes the root causes of China’s water resource challenge, assesses the Chinese government’s policy response to date, and finally offers recommendations to increase the effectiveness of these policies.
In short, China’s water resource challenge consists of both water quantity and quality issues, each of which present distinctive challenges for Chinese policy. Although the Chinese government is implementing perhaps the world’s most ambitious water resource management strategy, its efforts risk being undermined by inter-governmental rivalries, corruption, and incentives that favor economic development over sustainable resource use. In particular, inter-jurisdictional conflicts over water resources threaten to undermine policies to address water scarcity, while mis-matched incentives between pollution control and economic development at local levels of government threaten to undermine water quality control objectives.
Yunnan’s drought continues. During China’s annual parliamentary session in March, the deputy party secretary of the south-west Chinese province, Qiu He, blamed spring floodwaters that flow through Yunnan and on into other countries for the water shortages.
He proposed a system of reservoirs, dams and tanks to store that water, which could then be distributed more evenly over time and between locations. But many complained that Chinese officials were trying to pass their own troubles on to others.
Historically, Yunnan hasn’t been known for suffering droughts. Today, however, it is famous for it.
The winter and spring droughts that started in 2009 continue to plague China’s south-west, harming the region’s vulnerable economy – particularly agriculture and forestry. Cash crops such as sugar cane and coffee have been lost, and the crisis is restricting Yunnan’s economic growth.
This photo was taken in October 2011. Heihu is located in the Altai Mountains, in the northern tip of Xinjiang, bordering Mongolia and Kazakhstan. The lake is adjacent to the larger Lake Kanas, China’s deepest alpine lake, a popular destination among Chinese tourists, some of whom come to the lake in search of a mysterious lake creature that according to legend feeds on horse and cattle. Kazakh nomads inhabit the area, camping around the lake during the summer and descending to the cities as temperatures start to drop in the first weeks of October.