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China to continue efforts in sustainable water system
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China will continue its efforts in infrastructure and water-related systems to enable sustainable development, Chinese Minister of Water Resources Chen Lei said Saturday on the eve of 17th World Water Day in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

China will "accelerate the water infrastructure construction in ten aspects," he said on the sideline of the on-going 5th World Water Forum, the biggest water-related event in the world, held in Turkey.

The ten aspects are the reinforcement of risky reservoirs, rural drinking water security, water saving facility upgrading in large-scale irrigation areas, comprehensive management of major rivers and lakes, rehabilitation and upgrading of large-scale irrigation pumping stations, key water projects and water sources, water infrastructure construction in farmland, water and soil conservation, rural hydropower development and electrification, as well as capacity building.

"China will also promote restructuring in key areas to improve water management," he said, adding that the government will also implement laws, regulations and policies related to water resource management so as to ensure the sustainable socio-economic development.

In the past three decades, "Chinese government has as always paid great attention to water issues and has scored remarkable achievement in resource conservation and environment protection by taking concrete measures at all levels," he said.

According to the minister, China has achieved an economic growth rate of 10 percent annually with only 1 percent annual growth of water consumption. In the past three decades, the Chinese government has carried out intensive management on major rivers and lakes, including the Yangtze River, Yellow River and Haihe River.

The annual capacity of water projects has reached 659.1 billion cubic meters, offering 246 million rural residents with access to safe drinking water. "We have put an end to the drinking water scarcity in rural China," Chen said.

Meanwhile, he said China has managed to feed 21 percent of the world's population with 6 percent of the total freshwater resources and 9 percent of its arable land.

Furthermore, China has reinforced 3733 dams and its major hydro- projects have survived the secondary disasters induced by the Sichuan Earthquake in May 2008.

The top Chinese official of water resources, who headed a government delegation to attend the Ministerial Conferences of the forum, said the 5th World Water Forum is an important event held in the context of the global economic downturn.

He said the forum facilities the international exchange of water management philosophy and experience, China is willing to "join hands with other countries in the world to promote communication and exchanges, share the achievements and experience, and jointly cope with the global climate change."

(Xinhua News Agency March 23, 2009)

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