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SCIO press conference on water management and national water security

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The State Council Information Office held a press conference Wednesday in Beijing on making solid progress in water management and comprehensively upgrading the country's capacity to ensure national water security.  September 25, 2023

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Mr. Li Guoying, minister of water resources

Mr. Zhang Xiangwei, director general of the Department of Planning and Programming of the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR)

Mr. Chen Mingzhong, director general of the Department of Rural Water and Hydropower of the MWR

Mr. Yao Wenguang, director general of the Department of Flood and Drought Disaster Prevention of the MWR


Ms. Shou Xiaoli, deputy director general of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and spokesperson of the SCIO


Sept. 13, 2023

Shou Xiaoli:

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome to this press conference held by the State Council Information Office (SCIO). This is the 25th briefing in the series "Embarking on the New Journey — A Government Perspective." Today, we have invited Mr. Li Guoying, minister of water resources, to brief you on making solid progress in water management and comprehensively upgrading the country's capacity to ensure national water security, and to take your questions. In addition, we are also joined today by Mr. Zhang Xiangwei, director general of the Department of Planning and Programming of the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR); Mr. Chen Mingzhong, director general of the Department of Rural Water and Hydropower of the MWR; and Mr. Yao Wenguang, director general of the Department of Flood and Drought Disaster Prevention of the MWR. 

Now, I'll give the floor to Mr. Li for a brief introduction.

Li Guoying:

Ladies and gentlemen, friends from the media, good afternoon. I'm very grateful to friends from the media for your long-term concern and strong support for the development of water resources management.

The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has set forth clear requirements for enhancing disaster prevention, reduction and relief capabilities, as well as coordinating the management of water resources, water environment and water ecology. This has provided guidance and direction for the management of water resources in the new era. The MWR has thoroughly studied and implemented the principles of the 20th CPC National Congress, diligently putting into practice General SecretaryXi Jinping's principles of "prioritizing water conservation, balancing spatial distribution, taking systematic approaches and giving full play to the roles of both government and market" and his important expositions on water management. We have made substantial progress in promoting the high-quality development of water resources management in this new stage. This progress has provided a robust guarantee for water security as we strive to build a modern socialist country and achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

First, we have been making every effort to prevent floods and droughts. We prioritize the safety of people's lives and property, with the goal of ensuring "no casualties, no reservoir collapses, no breaches in important embankments and no impact on vital infrastructure." We are fully committed to ensuring the safety of urban and rural water supply and dealing with severe floods and droughts. In particular, during this year's "23-7" super large flood in the Haihe River Basin, we conducted daily analysis of rainfall, strengthened forecasting and warning measures, and effectively managed the basin's flood control engineering system. A total of 84 large and medium-sized reservoirs stored 2.85 billion cubic meters of floodwater. We efficiently managed river systems to disperse floods, utilizing eight national flood storage and detention areas to store an impressive 2.53 billion cubic meters of floodwater. There were no dam collapses or breaches in important embankments. Flooding was reduced in 24 cities and towns, and 7.51 million mu of cultivated land was protected. We were able to avoid the displacement of 4.623 million people, thus ensuring the safety of people's lives and property to the greatest extent possible.

Second, we have implemented major national water network projects. We are diligently carrying out the Outline of National Water Network Construction Plan and striving to build a comprehensive national water network that is complete, safe, reliable, efficient, green and intelligent, with smooth circulation and orderly regulation. We have accelerated the implementation of several major national water network projects, including the central route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project (transferring water from the Danjiangkou Reservoir to Tuancheng Lake in Beijing's Summer Palace), Beibu Gulf Rim Water Resources Allocation Project, and the second phase of the Huaihe River Waterway into the Sea Project. Additionally, we are expediting the construction of water networks at the provincial, municipal and county levels. We are also revising flood control plans for major river basins such as the Yangtze River, Yellow River, Huaihe River, Haihe River, Pearl River, Songhua River, Liaohe River and Taihu Lake. Furthermore, we are enhancing the basin flood control engineering system, which primarily consists of reservoirs, rivers, embankments, and flood storage and detention areas. We are also working to improve rural water supply systems and promote the integration of urban and rural water supply, large-scale centralized water supply, and standardized construction and management of small water supply projects based on local conditions. From January to August this year, China invested a total of 985.6 billion yuan in the construction of water conservancy facilities. We initiated 23,600 new water conservancy projects and invested 736.1 billion yuan in the completion of water conservancy construction, both of which set historical records for the same period. The construction of water conservancy projects created 1.971 million jobs, providing strong support for economic recovery.

Third, we have been revitalizing the ecological environment of rivers and lakes. We are strengthening the supervision of ecological flow in rivers and lakes, implementing ecological water replenishment measures, and undertaking restoration efforts for 88 key rivers. Building upon the historic reconnection of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal last year after a centurylong hiatus, we have facilitated its reconnection once again this year. The water in the Yongding River continues to flow. We are comprehensively managing the overexploitation of groundwater in North China and 10 key areas, including the Sanjiang Plain and Liaohe Plain. We have also initiated deep groundwater replenishment projects. We are making every effort to ensure the water quality safety of the Danjiangkou Reservoir and its upstream basin, as well as the central route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project. Additionally, we are actively promoting water and soil erosion controls in key areas such as the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, and the black soil area in Northeast China.

Fourth, we have stepped up efforts to promote the construction of the digital twin system for water resources management. In a systematic and well-organized manner, we have completed the top-level design of digital twins of river basins, water networks, and the project, carrying out 94 pilot programs and promoting the construction of digital twins of irrigated areas in 48 locations. The system has helped to make predictive, scientific, and safe decisions this year in terms of flood and drought disaster prevention, optimized allocation of water resources, and management and protection of water environments. 

Fifth, we have set up and improved the water conservation policy system. We have implemented a comprehensive conservation strategy, imposing rigid constraints on water use, and followed the principle of taking water availability as a determining factor in urban and industrial development, agriculture, and population distribution. We have stepped up efforts to carry out nationwide water-saving campaigns to promote water conservation in agriculture, industry, and urban areas in order to raise efficiency, reduce emissions, and cut water losses, respectively. We have made great efforts to control the total amount and intensity of water consumption and accelerated water allocation of rivers and lakes that cross provinces. Supervision and management of water drawing and water use have been strengthened. We have stepped up efforts to ensure that every unit with an annual water consumption of more than 10,000 cubic meters in the Yangtze River Economic Belt has adopted the planned water use management, while the compulsory water quota management system has been adopted in the Yellow River Basin. Moreover, we have ensured that water-receiving areas in the eastern and middle routes of the South-to-North diversion project have adopted the water conservation policy. All these efforts have been helpful in raising water use efficiency and benefits.

Sixth, we have strengthened management systems and mechanisms according to the law. The Yellow River Protection Law was launched and took effect on April 1 this year. We have also enhanced the study, publicity, and implementation of the Yangtze River Protection Law and the Yellow River Protection Law and stepped up efforts to put follow-up systems in place. The MWR, together with the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Justice, launched a special law enforcement campaign to protect rivers and lakes. We have also worked with the Supreme People's Procuratorate to carry out a special campaign to protect water resources in the Yellow River Basin. Moreover, we have deepened the reform of water conservancy investment and financing systems and improved the system to manage the operation of water conservancy projects. More efforts have been made to strengthen the river and lake chief system and enhance the overall planning, regulation, distribution, and management so that we are able to regulate and manage water resources in a better way. 

That's my introduction. Now, my colleagues and I would like to answer the questions that you're concerned about. Thank you. 

Shou Xiaoli:

Thank you, Mr. Li. The floor is now open for questions. Please identify the news outlet you represent before raising your questions.

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