Water in China. Key takeaways. "The United Nations defines three levels of “water stress,” which begins when the annual supply of water available in a country drops to 1,700 cubic meters per person. The situation becomes graver when this annual level drops to 1,000 cubic meters — a condition defined as “water scarcity.” Countries with an annual amount of less than 500 cubic meters of water per person experience “absolute water scarcity.” Eight of China’s northern provinces are currently experiencing absolute water scarcity, while another 11 are at the water scarcity level.

The water resources provided by the Yellow River are a tenth of what they were in the 1940s; Across the Yellow River Basin region, they have been halved in the past 50 years. In 1997, the Yellow River dried up for 226 days, severing the river’s connection to the Bohai Sea.

Recent studies show that pollution has made a tenth of the river’s water unfit for agricultural use. Climate change has only accelerated the pace at which the river is drying up. In 2000, Premier Zhu Rongji warned that the current pace would eventually force the government to relocate its capital from Beijing."