Monday, June 6, 2011

Most Fortunate Chinese - Beijing Residents, on Drought and Water Project in China

Beijing is the absolute center of China - in a country spanning of over four time zones, only time used there is Beijing standard time.  Either the number of a train is even or odd, depends on if it goes to or fro Beijing.  When I grew up, one resident in my home city got a ration of about one pound meat, 7 oz. cooking oil, etc. per month, while Beijing residents could purchase almost everything, with no real quantitative limits.  The only inconvenience was the limit they could buy at one time.  As long as they went back to the queues, they were allowed to buy as much to their hearts' content.  Dad had many opportunities of going to Beijing on business trips and every time, he would brought back large amount of amazing food, unknown or unfamiliar to the people in the desolate Manchuria, such as deep fried doughs, and twists soaked in honey.  Dad called himself of of those "Manchurian Tiger" charging into Beijing, a favorite term Beijing residents disparagingly called people from materially challenged bitter cold Manchuria.  Beijing residents were very privileged indeed.

That tradition has survived to the new century.  The first Chinese Olympic took place in no other city than Beijing.  People from all corners spent vast amount of money to sustain a month-long inflated pride of Beijing residents, with no benefits to other places whatsoever.

When Beijing residents are thirsty, millions people lose their homes in the provinces.

Beijing and several other northern cities are suffering from thirst.  Yet, Beijing has built many golf courses and ski resorts, all notorious for water consumption.  Instead, Chinese government, after the controversial Three Gorges Dam, is now embarking on an even more ambitious, and more controversial water project - South-North Water Diversion Project.

Guardian reported that
The dam is not the only hydro-engineering project that has come under scrutiny as a result of the drought. The state's massive south-north water diversion project, which aims to tap the normally moist Yangtze basin to supply arid northern cities like Beijing, is also being called into question because one of its source reservoirs at Danjiangkou has fallen 4m below the minimum requirement for its operation.

"This is bound to have an impact on the diversion project," said Zhang Junfeng, an environmental activist with Green Earth Volunteers. "Water storage at Danjiangkou reservoir is already at a dead level and I think the situation will get worse year by year because this is partly due to climate change."

New York Times reported that 
Beijing has about 100 cubic meters, or 26,000 gallons, of water available per person. According to a standard adopted by the United Nations, that is a fraction of the 1,000 cubic meters, or 260,000 gallons, per person that indicates chronic water scarcity.

The planning for Beijing’s growth up to 2020 by the State Council already assumes the water diversion will work, rather than planning for growth with much less water, said Mr. Wang, the former official.

City planners see a Beijing full of golf courses, swimming pools and nearby ski slopes — the model set by the West.

“Instead of transferring water to meet the growing demand of a city, we should decide the size of a city according to how much water resources it has,” Mr. Wang said. “People’s desire for development has no end.”
Yangtze region is suffering the worst drought in fifty years - The Three Gorges Dam upstream had been blamed by many quarters - and the second largest lake in China, with the size of 1/6th of Lake Erie, has dried up.  There will be up to four million people relocated due to Three Gorges Dam and the Water Diversion Project would affect more people, in almost unimaginable scale.

If the Three Gorges Dam was crazy, this new project is pure insanity.

The more I think about it, the more I resent the fact that entire China population sacrifice themselves for the benefit of several million privileged residents in the most indulged Beijing.

However, whenever I complained too much, I remembered their heroic deeds in the trying time of May and June of 1989, then, my antipathy towards Beijing residents would dissipate, somewhat.

Weeping Water Dolphin

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