The government says global warming dried up its rivers. But they've ignored the impact of their giant dams and diversion channels.
China's recently published "water census" shows that as many as 28,000 rivers have vanishedfrom the country since the 1990s. It's a trend, the report suggests, that's likely to continue. But the causes of this problem are a little murkier. The "census" offers no reason for the disappearance of so many water sources.
In some places, like Minqin, where the Shiyang River has run dry, Beijing insists that climate change is to blame. Residents disagree. The government built a sizable upstream reservoir nearby two decades ago to irrigate a large farm. That cut off the water supply for residents.
"China is looking always at mega-projects rather than addressing the root causes," Zhou Lei, a fellow at Nanjing University who studies the affects of industry on the environment, tellsReuters. "They experiment with technologies to treat the problem, like the water transfer projects being done right now, but they are draining resources in a very wrong way."