Posts tagged ‘Chinese Academy of Sciences’

17/09/2016

The plateau, unpacified | The Economist

AN ELDERLY woman with long, grey plaits, wearing a traditional Tibetan apron of wool in colourful stripes, has spent her day weaving thread outside her home near the southern end of Qinghai Lake, high on the Tibetan plateau. She is among hundreds of thousands of Tibetan nomads who have been forced by the government in recent years to settle in newly built villages. She now lives in one of them with her extended family and two goats. Every few months one of her sons, a red-robed monk, visits from his monastery, a place so cut off from the world that he has never heard of Donald Trump. Her grandson, a 23-year-old with slick hair and a turquoise rain jacket, is more clued in. He is training to be a motorcycle mechanic in a nearby town. Theirs is a disorienting world of social transformation, sometimes resented, sometimes welcome.Chinese and foreigners alike have long been fascinated by Tibet, romanticising its impoverished vastness as a haven of spirituality and tranquillity. Its brand of Buddhism is alluring to many Chinese—even, it is rumoured, to Peng Liyuan, the wife of China’s president, Xi Jinping. Many Tibetans, however, see their world differently. It has been shattered by China’s campaign to crush separatism and eradicate support for the Dalai Lama, their spiritual leader who fled to India after an uprising in 1959. The economic transformation of the rest of China and its cities’ brash modernity are seductive, but frustratingly elusive.

The story of political repression in Tibet is a familiar one. The Dalai Lama accuses China’s government of “cultural genocide”, a fear echoed by a tour guide in Qinghai, one of five provinces across which most of the country’s 6m Tibetans are scattered (the others are Gansu, Sichuan, Yunnan and the Tibet Autonomous Region, or TAR—see map). “We know what happened to the Jews,” he says. “We are fighting for our existence.” Less commonly told is the despair felt by many young Tibetans who feel shut out of China’s boom. They are victims of Tibet’s remote and forbidding topography as well as of racial prejudice and the party’s anti-separatist zeal. They often cannot migrate to coastal factories, and few factories will come to them. Even fluent Mandarin speakers rarely find jobs outside their region.

Yet Tibetans are not cut off from the rapidly evolving culture of the rest of China, where more than 90% of the population is ethnic Han. Mayong Gasong Qiuding, a 26-year-old hotel worker in Yushu in southern Qinghai, listens to Mandarin, Tibetan and Western pop music in tandem. He can rattle off official slogans but can recite only short Tibetan prayers. His greatest wish, he says, is to go to the Maldives to see the sea. Tibetan women in Qinghai use skin-whitening products, following a widespread fashion among their Han counterparts; a teenager roller-skates anticlockwise around a Buddhist stupa, ignoring a cultural taboo. Young nomads frustrate their elders by forsaking locally-made black, yak-hair tents for cheaper, lighter canvas ones produced in far-off factories.

Han migration, encouraged by a splurge of spending on infrastructure, is hastening such change. Although Tibetans still make up 90% of the permanent population of the TAR, its capital Lhasa is now 22% Han, compared with 17% in 2000. Many Tibetans resent the influx. Yet they are far more likely to marry Han Chinese than are members of some of China’s other ethnic groups. Around 10% of Tibetan households have at least one member who is non-Tibetan, according to a census in 2010. That compares with 1% of households among Uighurs, another ethnic minority whose members often chafe at rule by a Han-dominated government.

Core features of Tibetan culture are in flux. Monasteries, which long ago played a central role in Tibetan society, are losing whatever influence China has allowed them to retain. In recent years, some have been shut or ordered to reduce their populations (monks and nuns have often been at the forefront of separatist unrest). In July buildings at Larung Gar in Sichuan, a sprawling centre of Tibetan Buddhist learning, were destroyed and thousands of monks and nuns evicted. Three nuns have reportedly committed suicide since. Of the more than 140 Tibetans who have set fire to themselves since 2011 in protest against Chinese rule, many were spurred to do so by repressive measures at their own monastery or nunnery.

Cloistered life is threatened by social change, too. Families often used to send their second son to a monastery, a good source of schooling. Now all children receive nine years of free education. “The young think there are better things to do,” says a monk at Rongwo monastery in Tongren, a town in Qinghai, who spends his days “praying, teaching [and] cleaning”. New recruits often come from poorly educated rural families.

Mind your language

In the TAR (which is closed to foreign journalists most of the time), the Tibetan language is under particular threat. Even nursery schools often teach entirely in Mandarin. A generation is now graduating from universities there who barely speak Tibetan. Some people have been arrested for continuing to teach in the language. In April last year Gonpo Tenzin, a singer, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for his album, “No New Year for Tibet”, encouraging Tibetans to preserve their language and culture.

In some areas outside the TAR, however, the government is less hostile to Tibetan. Since the early 2000s, in much of Qinghai, the number of secondary schools that teach in Tibetan has risen, according to research there by Adrian Zenz of the European School of Culture and Theology at Korntal, Germany. The range of degrees taught in Tibetan has expanded too. Unlike elsewhere, someone who has studied mainly in Tibetan can still get a good job in Qinghai. A third of all government roles advertised there between 2011 and 2015 required the language. Despite this, many parents and students chose to be taught in Mandarin anyway, Mr Zenz found. They thought it would improve job prospects.

Karma chameleon

But work can be difficult to get, despite years of huge government aid that has helped to boost growth. Government subsidies for the TAR amounted to 111% of GDP in 2014 (see chart), according to Andrew Fischer of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Eleven airports serve Qinghai and the TAR—they will have three more by 2020. A 156-mile train line from Lhasa (population 560,000) to Shigatse (population 120,000), which was completed in 2014, cost 13.3 billion yuan ($2.16 billion). A second track to Lhasa is being laid from Sichuan, priced at 105 billion yuan.

Better infrastructure has fuelled a tourism boom—domestic visitors to the TAR increased fivefold between 2007 and 2015—but most income flows to travel agents elsewhere. Tourists stay in Han-run hotels and largely eat in non-Tibetan restaurants (KFC opened its first Lhasa branch in March). Tibetan resentment at exclusion from tourism- and construction-related jobs was a big cause of rioting in Lhasa in 2008 that sparked plateau-wide protests. Other big money-spinners—hydropower and the extraction of minerals and timber—are controlled by state-owned firms that employ relatively few Tibetans. The Chinese name for Tibet, Xizang, means “western treasure house”. But Tibetans have little share in its spoils. The rehousing of nomads has helped provide some with building jobs, but has also brought suffering: those relocated sometimes find it harder to make a living from herding.

In most other parts of China, villages have been rapidly emptying as people flock to work in cities. In the country as a whole, the agricultural population dropped from 65% to 48% as a share of the total between 2000 and 2010. On the plateau it fell only slightly, from 87% to 83%. It is hard for Tibetans to migrate to places where there are more opportunities. Police and employers treat them as potential troublemakers. In 2010 only about 1% of Tibetans had settled outside the plateau, says Ma Rong of Peking University. They cannot move abroad either. In 2012 Tibetans in the TAR had to surrender their passports (to prevent them joining the Dalai Lama); in parts of Qinghai officials went house-to-house confiscating them.

Karma chameleon

For university graduates, the prospects are somewhat better. There are few prospects for secure work in private firms on the plateau. But to help them, the government has been on a hiring spree since 2011. Almost all educated Tibetans now work for the state. A government job is a pretty good one: salaries have been rising fast. Few Tibetans see such work as traitorous to their cause or culture. But the government may not be able to keep providing enough jobs for graduates, especially if a slowdown in China’s economy, which is crimping demand for commodities, has a knock-on effect on the plateau.

Many of the problems faced by Tibetans are common in traditional pastoral cultures as they modernise. But those of Tibetans are compounded by repression. They are only likely to increase when the Dalai Lama, now 81, dies. The central government will try to rig the selection of his successor, and no doubt persecute Tibetans who publicly object.

In private, officials say they are playing a waiting game: they expect the “Tibetan problem” to be more easily solved when he is gone. They are deluding themselves. They ignore his impact as a voice of moderation: he does not demand outright independence and he condemns violence. Tibetan culture may be under duress, but adoration of the Dalai Lama shows no sign of diminishing. Poverty, alienation and the loss of a beloved figurehead may prove an incendiary cocktail.

Source: The plateau, unpacified | The Economist

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02/10/2014

China’s $163 Billion R&D Budget – Businessweek

The amount of money China spends annually on research and development has tripled since 1995—reaching $163 billion in 2012, or 1.98 percent of GDP. As China cracks down on corruption elsewhere in government, so too has Xi Jinping’s administration turned greater attention to curtailing massive graft in research fields—including arresting top scientists and administrators suspected of skimming off the top. In June, for instance, Song Maoqiang, former dean of Beijing University of Posts & Telecommunications’ school of computer science and technology, was given a harsh 10-year prison term for embezzling $110,000 in research funds.

One component of China’s campaign to clean up corruption is requiring central government agencies to disclose their annual research budgets. In the Aug. 29 issue of the journal Science, two researchers—based at China’s Dalian University of Technology and the U.K.’s University of Nottingham—mined and compiled available budget information to “open [up] the ‘black box’ of China’s government R&D expenditures.”

Three agencies—the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC)—together were responsible for distributing nearly three-quarters of China’s research spending in 2011. The agencies dole out grants through both competitive, peer-reviewed proposal processes (sometimes aimed at achieving national goals or research priorities) and through more inscrutable, contract-based research. In general, the latter is more susceptible to corruption. Defense-related research usually falls into this category.

After combing through extensive records only recently made public, the Science authors, Yutao Sun and Cong Cao, could still not fully determine where all of Beijing’s research money has gone. “Slightly less than half (45.25%) of the central government R&D spending in 2011 is not accounted for,” they write, speculating that it is “likely spent at eight defense-related agencies that have not yet disclosed [their department annual reports].”

The authors calculate that in 2011, China devoted 4.7 percent and 11.8 percent of its total R&D budget to basic and applied research, respectively. That is a much lower percentage than in countries whose science and technology achievements Beijing hopes one day to rival, including the U.S. and Japan. In 2009, the U.S. spent 19.7 percent and 17.8 percent of total R&D budget on basic and applied research, respectively, and Japan spent 12.5 percent and 22.4 percent. “The low share of scientific research expenditure has negatively affected China’s innovation capability and may jeopardize China’s ambition to become an innovation-oriented nation,” the authors conclude.

via China’s $163 Billion R&D Budget – Businessweek.

08/08/2014

In China, Wastewater Irrigates Parks and Spreads Bacteria – Businessweek

In theory, recycling water in China’s parched cities, including Beijing, makes ecological sense. But when wastewater is inadequately treated before being used to water urban parks—or redirected through scenic downtown canals—it can become an environmental health hazard.

Something Is Scary in the Water That Irrigates Many Chinese Parks

Six researchers in Beijing and Xiamen working for the Chinese Academy of Sciences recently decided to compare conditions in city parks watered with fresh water vs. recycled water. Their findings, reported in a July 24 article in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, may make you squirm.

Conventional wastewater treatment plants are designed to remove solids, organic matter, and nutrients from water, but they aren’t properly equipped to treat the kinds of waste that may be found in used water from hospitals and pharmaceutical facilities. In particular, most wastewater plants in China don’t remove traces of antibiotics and may even become “reservoirs” for them, as the researchers put it.

Even treated wastewater can therefore become a vector for spreading antibiotics, as well as “antibiotic resistant genes”—chance genetic mutations that make bacteria resistant to drugs. The researchers found that urban parks in China doused with recycled water contained dangerously elevated levels of antibiotic resistant genes, with quantities from 100 times to 8,655 times greater than in other parks.

An April 30 report from the World Health Organization sounded the alarm about growing antibiotic resistance worldwide: “This serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world. … Antibiotic resistance–when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work in people who need them to treat infections–is now a major threat to public health.”

Apparently lousy sewage systems and some irrigated parks in China, and likely elsewhere, are helping to accelerate the threat. China’s situation is particularly risky because of a culture of rampant overprescription of antibiotics, which the government is trying hard to bring under control.

via In China, Wastewater Irrigates Parks and Spreads Bacteria – Businessweek.

06/06/2014

Stunning fossil eggs provide insight on ancient flying reptiles | Reuters

A spectacular fossil find in China – a prehistoric egg extravaganza from 120 million years ago – is providing unique insight into the lifestyle and gender differences of pterosaurs, the flying reptiles that lived alongside the dinosaurs.

An artist rendition depicts ecological reconstructions of Hamipterus, the flying reptiles that lived alongside the dinosaurs. REUTERS/Chuang Zhao/Handout via Reuters

Until now, only four pterosaur eggs had ever been found, and all were flattened during the process of fossilization.

But Chinese scientists said on Thursday they had unearthed five pterosaur eggs preserved beautifully in three dimensions at a site in northwestern China that also includes no fewer than 40 adult individuals of a newly identified species that lived in a bustling colony near a large freshwater lake.

“This is definitely the most important pterosaur site ever found,” said paleontologist Zhonghe Zhou, director of the Chinese Academy of SciencesInstitute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology.

The creature, Hamipterus tianshanensis, had a crest atop its elongated skull, pointy teeth for catching fish and a wingspan of more than 11 feet (3.5 meters).

via Stunning fossil eggs provide insight on ancient flying reptiles | Reuters.

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29/01/2014

Chinese-led international mission to explore South China Sea for oil | South China Morning Post

The first scientific ocean drilling expedition led and sponsored by China sails from Hong Kong tomorrow into the South China Sea – the subject of territorial disputes between Beijing and neighbouring countries.

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Thirty-one geologists will drill at three sites for sediment and rock cores during the 62-day international expedition aboard the American scientific drill ship Joides Resolution.

Scientists said the samples would reveal the tectonic evolution of the South China Sea, and pave the way to map oil and natural gas fields.

\”Oil and gas fields lie close to the coast, but the key is to open the treasure box buried beneath the basin,\” said Wang Pinxian, a marine geologist and member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

And Lin Jian, one of the chief scientists involved, said: \”The basalt retrieved from the basin is like a book that records the formation of the South China Sea.\”

Proposed by Chinese scientists in 2008, the trip marks the first sailing of the 2013-2023 International Ocean Discovery Programme (IODP), an international scientific research effort established by the United States in the 1960s.

Dozens of proposals for the programme were submitted by the 26 IODP member countries. The proposal to drill in the South China Sea did not win the most votes, but the generosity of the Chinese government – which is paying US$6 million, or 70 per cent, of the expedition\’s cost – was a deciding factor.

China also submitted a proposal last year to examine the northern reaches of the South China Sea, the area so far identified with the richest oil and gas resources, said Li Chunfeng, another scientist on the expedition.

The 31 scientists on the ship come from 10 countries and regions: 13 are from mainland China, nine from the US and one from Taiwan.

via Chinese-led international mission to explore South China Sea for oil | South China Morning Post.

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09/12/2013

Could China lead the race to develop world’s first invisibility cloak? | South China Morning Post

Scientists on the mainland say they are increasingly confident of developing the world’s first practical invisibility cloak, using technology to hide objects from view and make them “disappear’’.

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At least 40 research teams have been funded by the central government over the past three years to develop the idea, which in recent decades has largely been the stuff of science fiction and fantasy novels like the Harry Potter series than science fact.

The technology would have obvious military uses, such as developing stealth aircraft, but Beijing believes the research could lead to wider technological breakthroughs with broader uses, scientists involved in the research said.

The teams involved include researchers at Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

China\’\’s J-20 stealth fighter jet. The invisibility technology would have obvious military uses, such as developing stealth aircraft. Photo: SCMP Pictures

The main approaches are developing materials that guide light away from an object; creating electromagnetic fields to bend light away from what you are trying to hide, plus copying nature to make high-tech camouflage materials.

A team led by professor Chen Hongsheng at Zhejiang University released a video earlier this month demonstrating a device that made fish invisible. The same technology also made a cat “disappear’’.

The device was made of a hexagonal array of glass panels, which bends light around the object, making it disappear from view.

Other teams on the mainland have made similar breakthroughs during their research. Professor Ma Yungui, an optical engineering scientist who also works at Zhejiang University, said his team would soon announce their latest finding: a device that stops objects being detected by heat sensors or metal detectors.

via Could China lead the race to develop world’s first invisibility cloak? | South China Morning Post.

24/11/2013

Between a desert and a dry place: Beijing’s green projects drain scarce water resources | South China Morning Post

Smog-plagued Beijing is anxiously awaiting its first batch of synthetic natural gas – a material converted from coal and piped 300 kilometres from Heshigten Banner in northeastern Inner Mongolia.

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The gas will power some of Beijing\’s central heating systems in the harsh winter months, replacing coal to cut harmful emissions of particulate pollutants.

When the pipes are fully pumping next year, Beijing will receive 4 billion cubic metres of synthetic gas a year – nearly half of last year\’s natural gas consumption – a step towards switching all the city\’s heating systems and industrial boilers from coal to gas.

But there is an ominous tinge to the seemingly green investment: environmental experts say the water-intensive conversion process could drain already scarce water resources in the country\’s drylands in the northwest, eroding land and causing more sandstorms.

\”If water depletion continues … not only will the local people suffer, the environmental impact could be profound,\” Chinese Academy of Sciences ecology researcher Xie Yan says.

Nationwide, replacing dirty coal with cleaner natural gas is a key measure in reducing the choking smog that spreads over more than a quarter of the country and is inhaled by nearly 600 million people. Because of the country\’s limited conventional natural gas and abundant coal reserves, converting coal to natural gas seems a convenient choice.

Beijing\’s demand for natural gas is expected to rise rapidly, reaching 18 billion tonnes in 2015 and 28 billion tonnes in 2020, as all its heating systems and industrial boilers make the switch from coal to gas. Beijing Gas Group, which is fully owned by the municipal government, has invested in the coal-to-gas project in Inner Mongolia to meet the demand.

The coal-to-gas industry, which had been sputtering for several years, received a boost in September when the State Council released a national action plan to fight air pollution, giving the sector explicit support.

But ecological experts have voiced concern for the unintended environmental consequence of coal-to-gas plants. The conversion requires vast quantities of water not just for production, but also for cooling and the removal of contaminants. On average, one cubic metre of synthetic natural gas needs six to 10 tonnes of freshwater.

\”Freshwater is a key raw material for turning coal to gas, so it\’s impossible to reduce water demand in such projects,\” Wen Hua, an associate at the US-based World Resources Institute (WRI), says.

To make things worse, the coal-abundant northwest, where the gas projects are based, already experiences chronic water shortages. Five provinces – Shanxi , Shaanxi , Ningxia , Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang – which possess 76 per cent of the country\’s coal reserves, have just 6.14 per cent of its total water resources.

via Between a desert and a dry place: Beijing’s green projects drain scarce water resources | South China Morning Post.

28/08/2013

China Launches Three ASAT Satellites

Washington Free Beacon : “China’s military recently launched three small satellites into orbit as part of Beijing’s covert anti-satellite warfare program, according to a U.S. official.

AP

The three satellites, launched July 20 by a Long March-4C launcher, were later detected conducting unusual maneuvers in space indicating the Chinese are preparing to conduct space warfare against satellites, said the official who is familiar with intelligence reports about the satellites.

One of the satellites was equipped with an extension arm capable of attacking orbiting satellites that currently are vulnerable to both kinetic and electronic disruption.

“This is a real concern for U.S. national defense,” the official said. “The three are working in tandem and the one with the arm poses the most concern. This is part of a Chinese ‘Star Wars’ program.”

China’s 2007 test of an anti-satellite missile shocked U.S. military and intelligence leaders who realized the U.S. satellites, a key to conducting high-performance warfare, are vulnerable to attack. Officials have said China could cripple U.S. war-fighting efforts by knocking out a dozen satellites. Satellites are used for military command and control, precision weapons guidance, communications and intelligence-gathering.

The official discussed some aspects of the Chinese anti-satellite (ASAT) program on condition of anonymity after some details were disclosed in online posts by space researchers.

“The retractable arm can be used for a number of things – to gouge, knock off course, or grab passing satellites,” the official said.

The three satellites also could perform maintenance or repairs on orbiting satellites, the official said.

Details of the small satellite activity were first reported last week in the blog “War is Boring.”

The posting stated that one of the satellites was monitored “moving all over the place” and appeared to make close-in passes with other orbiting satellites.

“It was so strange, space analysts wondered whether China was testing a new kind of space weapon — one that could intercept other satellites and more or less claw them to death,” the report said.

The U.S. official said: “It is exactly what was reported: An ASAT test.”

According to space researchers who tracked the satellites movements, one of the satellites on Aug. 16 lowered its orbit by about 93 miles. It then changed course and rendezvoused with a different satellite. The two satellites reportedly passed within 100 meters of each other.

One space researcher was quoted in the online report as saying one satellite was equipped with a “robot-manipulator arm developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.”

The Chinese appear to be testing their capability for intercepting and either damaging or destroying orbiting satellites by testing how close they can maneuver to a satellite, the U.S. official said.

“They are learning the tactics, techniques and processes needed for anti-satellite operations,” the official said.

The Chinese have given a code name to the satellites and numbered the satellites differently. Chinese state-run media identified the satellites as the Chuang Xin-3 (Innovation-3); the Shi Yan-7 (Experiment-7); and Shi Jian-15 (Practice-15). The Shi Jian-15 is believed to be the satellite with the robotic arm. The official said the designation used in the blog, SY-7, was not correct.”

via Washington Free Beacon » China Launches Three ASAT Satellites » Print.

02/08/2013

China’s Coal Thirst Strains Its Water Supplies

BusinessWeek: “The Wulanmulun River once ran through Daliuta, a town in China’s northern Shaanxi province. All that remains of the waterway today is a pond, which locals say is contaminated by waste from the world’s biggest underground coal mine. Environmentalists also contend that mining is sapping the area’s groundwater supplies. “I worry about the water,” says Zhe Mancang, the 58-year-old owner of a liquor store in town. “But my family’s here, and my customers are from the mines.”

The once-mighty Xiang River, in Changsha, Hunan province

Daliuta is the epicenter of a looming collision between China’s scarce supplies of water and heavy reliance on coal, which diverts millions of liters a day for its extraction and cleaning. “You can’t reconcile targets for coal production in, say, Shaanxi province and Inner Mongolia with their water targets,” says Charles Yonts, head of sustainable research at brokerage CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets in Hong Kong.

About 28,000 rivers have dried up across China since 1990, according to the country’s Ministry of Water Resources and National Bureau of Statistics of China, and those that remain are mostly polluted. China’s per-person share of fresh water is 1,730 cubic meters, close to the 1,700 cubic meter level the United Nations deems “stressed.”

The situation is worse in the north, where half of China’s population, most of its coal, and only 20 percent of its water are located. A government plan to boost coal production and build more power plants near mines will lift industrial demand for water in Inner Mongolia 141 percent by 2015 from 2010 levels, causing aquifers to dry up and deserts to expand, according to a report Greenpeace commissioned from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “After five years there won’t be enough water in Ordos in Inner Mongolia,” says Sun Qingwei, director of the climate and energy campaign at Greenpeace in Beijing. “The mines are stealing groundwater from agriculture. Local governments want their economies to boom.”

China’s central government is responding with tighter limits on water usage, a new approach to rates that allows for steep price increases, and plans to spend 4 trillion yuan ($652 billion) by 2020 to boost water infrastructure. Rules enacted this year require the manufacturing hubs of Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces and Shanghai to reduce water use every year even as their economies expand. In May 2012 authorities in the city of Guangzhou hiked prices 50 percent for residents and 89 percent for industrial users to help pay for improvements in the water supply, according to an April report by Goldman Sachs Group (GS).

To alleviate shortages in the north, the central government in 2002 approved the 500 billion yuan South-to-North water diversion project. The plan is to move 44.8 billion cubic meters of water from the Yangtze River annually along three routes. The first leg, slated for completion this year, will measure 1,467 kilometers, roughly double the length of the Erie Canal.

Even this massive undertaking may not be enough: A 2009 report by a group that includes Coca-Cola (KO) and SABMiller (SBMRY) noted that China’s annual demand may exceed supply by as much as 200 billion cubic meters by 2030, unless “major capital investments to strengthen water supplies are made beyond those presently planned.”

Chinese industry uses 4 to 10 times more water per unit of production than the average in developed countries, according to research firm China Water Risk in Hong Kong. Only 40 percent of industrial water is recycled, compared with 75 percent to 85 percent in developed countries, the World Bank says.

If the situation becomes dire enough, companies might consider transferring production elsewhere. “In an absolute worst case you’d see a large-scale shift in economic activity and population further south for lack of water, and manufacturing increasingly moving abroad,” says Scott Moore, a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Sustainability Science Program.

Farmers in some parts of China are already paying the price, as they have to dig deeper and deeper wells to find clean water or are being forced out by local governments who see bigger economic gains from mining. In Zhanggaijie village, in Shaanxi province, Li Qiaoling says she is one of 200 people awaiting compensation after a coal mine polluted the local water supply. Officials have also promised to relocate the villagers. “We’re angry because we have to leave,” says Li, who still grows corn on her small plot, despite the contamination. “We’re worried about moving to a strange place.”

via China’s Coal Thirst Strains Its Water Supplies – Businessweek.

29/07/2013

China’s brain drain may be world’s worst

China Daily: “Sun Zhipei has only been in Helsinki for four months, but he has already decided it is where he wants to settle.

The 35-year-old nanotech scientist previously spent almost 10 years living in Spain and Britain, and said he would not entertain the idea of returning to his native China.

“I can have more control about what I want to study here and carry out projects I’m interested in,” said the associate professor at Aalto University, who gained his PhD at the Chinese Academy of SciencesInstitute of Physics.

Sun’s attitude perhaps goes some way toward explaining a People’s Daily report in June that said China is experiencing “the world’s worst brain drain”.

Eighty-seven percent of the mainland’s top specialists in science and engineering who went abroad for work or study have no plans to return, the paper quoted an unnamed official with the Party’s coordination group on specialists as saying.

The group consists of 20 Party and government agencies, including the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee, which oversees human resources.

China Daily interview requests with the organization department went unanswered.

Although independent experts and statistics do not confirm the severity of the brain drain, there is little doubt it exists.

Wang Huiyao, director-general of the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based think tank, said since the reform and opening-up policy of the late 1970s, 2.6 million Chinese students have studied overseas, of which about half went to the United States.”

via China’s brain drain may be world’s worst |Society |chinadaily.com.cn.

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