China is taking action to better protect its rivers
The International Day of Action for Rivers has been celebrated across the world since 1997. Every year, on March 14, ordinary people raise awareness about the importance of healthy watersheds and the equitable and sustainable management of rivers.
China's rivers are an important part of its identity and heritage, having sustained Chinese people for more than 5,000 years. China's rivers have allowed the country to develop and prosper economically. They are important sources of food, energy and production of goods. By itself, the iconic Yangtze River contributes 73 percent of the country's hydropower while the provinces and municipalities in its basin contribute 42 percent of China's GDP.
Intensive development, however, has taken its toll on Yangtze and on all rivers in the country. The National Bureau of Statistics documented 50,000 rivers in China in the 1980s. Only 23,000 are left today. More than half of China's rivers have disappeared or become polluted. Travel to the countryside in China, and you will hear stories about the disappearance of these life-giving arteries. Look out of your window as you fly domestically, and you will see dry riverbeds where water once flowed. Protecting these powerful yet fragile life-support systems should be a strong focus to develop a "Beautiful China" by 2035.