Speaking of Water: China’s Water Challenges in 2021

Both at home and abroad, water will play a significant role in China’s policy decisions in 2021.

The Yangtze River near Chongqing. Photo © J. Carl Ganter/Circle of Blue

What are the trends, hurdles, and big ideas for water in China in 2021?

Domestically, the country’s leaders will respond to record-breaking floods in the southern provinces, advocate for water-absorbing “green” infrastructure, and contend with polluted water.

In foreign affairs, tensions in the Mekong River over dams and water supply will be tested by a new regional data-sharing agreement, while the Chinese government and state-owned companies pursue water-intensive infrastructure developments on other continents as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. At the same time, the dawn of the Biden administration will introduce a new dynamic in the U.S.-China relationship. Will that signal a return to Obama-era cooperation on climate, energy, and water?

To discuss these and other topics Circle of Blue reporter Brett Walton spoke with Scott Moore, the director of China Programs and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, and Jennifer Turner, the director of the China Environment Forum at the Wilson Center.

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