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Millions Invested to Monitor International Rivers

China has injected a record 50 million yuan (US$6 million) into hydrological network construction and management in two frontier areas to intensify monitoring and forecasting along international rivers.

The construction began in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, an official with the Ministry of Water Resources said, confirming that southwest China's Yunnan Province will soon follow suit.

Zhang Jianyun, deputy-director of the ministry's Hydrological Bureau, made it clear that the move marks the beginning of China's efforts to strengthen international cooperation with its neighboring countries sharing international rivers -- which flow across more than two countries, including related lakes within their drainage areas -- by actualizing hydrological monitoring and information services.

To date, construction of hydrological stations on Xinjiang's two international rivers -- the Ili and Ertix -- has been started as the first phase of the scheme.

Chinese water authorities will soon begin to examine their preliminary designs of the run to be set up along the Lancang (called the Mekong outside China) and the Yuanjiang (the Red River) in Yunnan.

There are more than 100 such rivers in China's seven provinces and autonomous regions, including Xinjiang, Tibet, Yunnan and the Inner Mongolia.

International rivers in China flow through more than 10 of China's neighboring countries, including Viet Nam, Korea and Russia.

However, existing facilities have lagged behind ever-increasing cooperations between China and the neighboring countries in the exchange of hydrological information, water resources management and shipping, due to inadequacy of hydrological stations and unclear run-offs.

Zhang's bureau has worked out an overall program for the construction of a hydrological monitoring network, scheduled to be completed in 80 percent of China's international rivers, with the approval of the Ministry of Water Resources early this year.

Zhang said: "The move will be helpful for China to provide its downstream neighboring countries with humanitarian aid."

(China Daily April 15, 2002)

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