China's Regional Water Scarcity and Implications for Grain Supply and Trade

  • Citation: Yang, Hong, and Alexander Zehnder. “China’s Regional Water Scarcity and Implications for Grain Supply and Trade.” Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 33, no. 1 (January 2001): 79–95.
    • Topics:
    • Transnational Issues
    • Keywords:
    • East Asia
    • water scarcity
    • resource depletion
    • North China Plain
    • social and economic development
    • climate change

In this paper we highlight the water scarcity and resource depletion in the North China Plain, the ‘breadbasket’ of China. A projection of water demand in the region indicates a continuous aggravation in water deficit in the coming years. Analyses of countermeasures on the supply and demand side suggest that the conventional wisdom of ‘opening up new sources and economising on the use of resources’ may not be an optimal way to deal with water scarcity in the region. Importing water in the form of grain should be taken as an additional measure. This ‘virtual water import’ option needs to be incorporated into the current regional and national agricultural development strategy in which crop structural adjustment is at the core.

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