Today, around 44% of China’s GDP is generated by water scarce provinces with water resources similar to the Middle East. Moreover, these dry regions are home to over a third of China’s sown lands and much of China’s power requires water to generate.
China’s water, energy and food nexus is complex and exacerbated by rampant water pollution which has bought about concerns over soil pollution and food safety. Official soil pollution statistics say one fifth of China’s farmlands are polluted. Food safety concerns are plenty: a Ministry of Environmental Protection survey showed that 9 out of 10 people were “highly concerned” over drinking water and food safety.
Naturally, ensuring water security is on top of the political agenda. Central to this is the “Three Red Lines”, a series of water policies that rein in pollution and impose national quotas on water use as well as stipulate water efficiency gains. RMB 6 trillion has been set aside for water infrastructure and a war on water pollution. Water security comes first. Without it, there is neither food nor energy security nor sustained economic development in China.