China Desperately Needs Resources and Water

China’s default setting is resource scarcity. Take something like water where it has 7% of the world’s fresh water sustaining 20% of humanity.

… as China urbanises at a much faster pace than it has been you’re going to have 250 million more urban residents in the next decade. They’re going to be competing with the agricultural and industrial sectors for water. So, how do you sustain all of that? On an increasingly sort of shrinking resource base, not to mention the fact that pollution has caused a lot of the existing water to be unusable without being cleaned up. __

Clean water is crucial for China’s huge population, for agriculture, and for much of China’s commerce and industry. The health of China’s people is already under threat from pollution, and the threat is rapidly expanding.

Nearly 60% of China’s Groundwater is Polluted

… nearly 60 percent of China’s groundwater is polluted. But water scarcity, while obviously exacerbated by pollution, is also a severe problem for China, one that is tied up with complex questions about energy use, urbanization, and modernization.

… nearly 70 percent of water used in China goes to the agriculture sector, while 20 percent is used in the coal industry. Both of these industries – agriculture and coal – are concentrated in China’s north, which also happens to be an area of scarce rainfall, receiving only 20 percent of China’s total moisture. As a result, demand for water is outstripping supply. In northern China, the average water per capita is only around 200 cubic meters. In Beijing, consumption levels were 70 percent greater than the total water supply in 2012.


China is dependent upon imports for 60% of its resources. 90% of imports travel by sea. This makes China vulnerable, regardless of how much of the world’s resources China buys up.

China has no clear and easy routes to the sea that cannot be blocked by advanced navies. China is also confronted by several “chokepoints” between the source of critical imports and the final destinations in China’s harbours.

The geographic enclosure of China's near seas would make it relatively easy for an adversary to disrupt or interdict Chinese trade. China faces many challenges in developing the ability to project sufficient naval power to safeguard seaborne trade as it passes through distant chokepoints. Instead, China must rely on the United States to provide security of the sea-lanes. Although maritime security is ostensibly a public good, China worries that, as a potential peer competitor to the United States, it will not always be able to rely on the United States to protect its shipping.

The geographic enclosure of China’s near seas would make it relatively easy for an adversary to disrupt or interdict Chinese trade. China faces many challenges in developing the ability to project sufficient naval power to safeguard seaborne trade as it passes through distant chokepoints. Instead, China must rely on the United States to provide security of the sea-lanes. Although maritime security is ostensibly a public good, China worries that, as a potential peer competitor to the United States, it will not always be able to rely on the United States to protect its shipping.

A chokepoint is a chokepoint — whether it might constrain the shipment of oil, liquefied gas, coal, mineral ores, or any other import critical to China’s commercial, industrial, or military survival. A loss of sea routes can hardly be made up by overland routes or urban mining.

China Expected Russia to be an Easy Lay

With Russia’s severe economic problems and political isolation, China expected that Russia would comply with whatever conditions China might choose to include in resource contracts — such as the pending construction of the Power of Siberia pipeline. But the project has been held up for numerous reasons, and Gazprom has yet to find a contractor for the pipeline.

Russia could use the extra energy sales to China, but in the current global regime of low hydrocarbon prices, China is not willing to take on large liabilities to make things easier for Russia. And Russia has her pride . . .

In addition, construction of overland pipelines from Russia (and Central Asia) can only supply a relatively small portion of China’s resource needs. Such pipelines can also not appreciably reduce Russia’s dependence on European markets for income.

China is steadily expanding its influence in Siberia, awakening Russian fears of Chinese domination.

… In part, ordinary Russians are nervous because they know their country is a declining power. Although Siberia is rich in energy resources, timber, water and minerals, the entire Russian population east of the Ural Mountains, traditionally the eastern boundary of Europe, is only 25 million.

Worse, just 7 million live in the most eastern part of Russia, while just across the border are more than 100 million Chinese suffering from a lack of clean water and an endless need for energy and other raw materials.

… Russia’s long-term ability to defend Siberia is being hollowed out by depopulation and Chinese growth… Relations between Russia and China, even over economic ties that should benefit both, will be tense at the best of times. If China’s economy weakens, Beijing may seek more access to Siberia than Moscow is willing to give.

Putin “expects Chinese firms to make a significan contribution to Russia’s Far East.” And no doubt they will, if not exactly in the way that Putin expects.

Siberia has Good Farmland, Resources — and Lots of Water!

China is in a similar situation as was prewar Japan before it invaded lands from Manchuria to Southeast Asia. China needs a lot of resources — including clean water — but it cannot guarantee access to these resources without showing some muscle. On the other hand, it does not want to be the recipient of Soviet Russian nuclear warhead detonations.

The 1.35 billion Chinese people south of the border outnumber Russia’s 144 million almost 10 to 1. The discrepancy is even starker for Siberia on its own, home to barely 38 million people, and especially the border area, where only 6 million Russians face over 90 million Chinese. With intermarriage, trade and investment across that border, Siberians have realized that, for better or for worse, Beijing is a lot closer than Moscow.

Part of the answer for a resource-starved China is the stealth invasion of Russia, underway for over a decade. Chinese companies are taking over more and more of the industry and commerce inside the Russian Far East, and other parts of Siberia. And once having gained a foothold, much of the activity of these Chinese companies goes covert.

There is also an array of other problems associated with Chinese immigrants, including the smuggling of raw materials to China. Forest products and millions of cubic meters of illegally felled trees and lumber are exported to the Chinese city of Manzhouli, southeast of Chita, where wood-processing factories can be counted by the hundreds. The Chinese have effectively avoided paying taxes and managed to take control of several companies that have become de facto monopolies in the food supply. In the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk on the Amur River, a 1755-mile-long waterway separating Russia and China, the factory producing Kvass, a popular Russian beverage made out of rye bread, is now owned by Li Lihua, a Chinese businesswoman. He Wenan, a Chinese entrepreneur, has specialized in the construction of shopping centers, along with running the most expensive hotels in town. In Chita, Chinese investors have bought a former tank factory and converted it into a truck manufacturing plant.

All indications show that the Russian Far East is fast becoming (if it has not already become) economically dependent on China. Its future is in the hands of the local Chinese, not Russian local authorities. The Chinese cultivate the land, which the Russians are not motivated to do on their own. Local authorities and businessmen don’t complain about dwindling Russian manpower beyond the Amur River as they can easily replace native workers with Chinese who are willing to work 12 hours a day or more. __
Harvard Intl Review

Russia is growing desperately over-dependent on Chinese investment and technology. China is insinuating itself into Rosneft, Gazprom, and other significant Russian industrial forces. Russia, in turn, is beginning to sell China some of its most advanced weapons systems, despite China’s incorrigible tendency to steal Russian technology and resell it to international buyers at a cheaper price.

Russia has at times served as China’s unwitting research and development department. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia was in need of money and held a fire sale of its state of the art Sukhoi Su-27 fighter. China bought two dozen of the fighters but later negotiated for a license to assemble additional planes domestically using key components imported from Russia. Within a few years China claimed that the fighter no longer met their needs and canceled the contract. To the fury of the Russians, the Chinese soon debuted the indigenously built and equipped Shenyang J-11B fighter that looks identical to the Su-27. __

At this point, Russia had no choice. Likewise, Moscow has no choice but to turn its eyes away from the stealthy takeover of more and more parts of Siberia by Chinese interests.

Russia is trying to move away from too much dependency on Chinese investment, but is only likely to succeed in a small way.

Russia has been bolstering cooperation with China’s rival India, already Asia’s largest weapons importer. “Whereas China was the most important client for Russia’s military aircraft in the past, currently India is as important. Moscow is much more comfortable working with the Indian than with the Chinese industry for a variety of reasons, including concerns about Chinese attempts to steal Russian intellectual property,” said China expert Crane. __

While all of this is happening:

More and more Chinese are slipping into Siberia and assuming ownership and managerial roles. Chinese men are finding a warm acceptance in the arms of Russian women of Siberia, who admire the ambition, sobriety, and domestic tranquility that Chinese men can offer.

Russia must now sell its best weapons to China — despite the knowledge that China will reverse-engineer the designs and use its new systems to outsell the Russians on international markets.

Russia must now work together with Chinese scientists, engineers, and technicians in future high tech weapons development — despite the awareness that China is apt to include features in the designs that would allow China to control Russia’s future weapons.

Moscow is allowing more long-term leases for Chinese developers, on Siberian lands.

China is strongly pursuing an influence war in Central Asia against Russia, in a bid for increased political and economic influence inside more of Russia’s borderlands. When it comes to such corrupt third world countries as are found in Central Asia, the outsider with the most cash to offer is likely to walk away with the contract.

China requires the resources of Central Asia, Siberia, Southeast Asia, and beyond. But the only resources it can be sure of, are the ones that cannot be blocked by maritime chokepoints or belligerent Russian land forces.

By slowly acquiring ownership of Russian assets — and continuing to build its military and nuclear assets vis a vis Russia — China can be somewhat comfortable that many of the assets of Asia — including much of Siberia — will soon be within its grasp.


When China launches a surprise attack for resources, who will the dragon attack?

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2 Responses to China Desperately Needs Resources and Water

  1. Pingback: Outside in - Involvements with reality » Blog Archive » Chaos Patch (#91)

  2. Matthew Smith says:

    We cannot allow China to take over the globe.

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