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    Inside-out: Chinese academic assessments of large-scale water infrastructure
    Webber, M ; Han, X ; Rogers, S ; Wang, M ; Jiang, H ; Zhang, W ; Barnett, J ; Zhen, N (WILEY, 2021-09-04)
    Little is known in the international academic community about Chinese-language research on water management. To remedy this deficit, this paper reviews current mainland Chinese understandings of the role of large-scale water infrastructures as tools of water resources management. We reviewed 461 papers published in mainland Chinese journals by Chinese scholars. This review suggests that the dominant approach to water management reflects the confines of government priorities—large-scale, concrete-heavy, infrastructure-based means of moving water around the country so as to meet demands and stimulate economic growth. Suppression of critical voices means that infrastructure is generally rendered apolitical: the critiques are about practical issues, such as technological, managerial, or administrative problems. There are exceptions to this characterization that adopt more critical frames; however, they reflect on water management elsewhere or in the past rather than on contemporary China. While these more critical papers are interesting and important contributions to our understanding of the politics of hydraulic infrastructures, the literature as a whole says little about the politics of infrastructure in China now. In effect, much of the literature in Chinese on water management in China simply acts as an arm of a machine—a network of corporations, universities, international institutions, and arms of the government, together tasked with identifying and framing what are water management issues, formulating standardized procedures for tackling those issues, and then constructing solutions to them. This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Planning Water Human Water > Water Governance.
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    An integrated assessment of China's South-North Water Transfer Project
    Rogers, S ; Chen, D ; Jiang, H ; Rutherfurd, I ; Wang, M ; Webber, M ; Crow-Miller, B ; Barnett, J ; Finlayson, B ; Jiang, M ; Shi, C ; Zhang, W (WILEY, 2020)
    China’s South–NorthWater Transfer Project (SNWTP) is a vast and still expanding network of infrastructure and institutions that moves water from the Yangtze River and its tributaries to cities in North China. This article aims to assess the SNWTP’s impacts by beginning to answer seven questions about the project: How is the management of the SNWTP evolving? What are the problems to be resolved when managing SNWTP water within jurisdictions? What are the status and management of water quality in the SNWTP? What are the consequences of resettlements caused by the SNWTP? How is increased water supply affecting regional development? Is the SNWTP achieving its stated environmental goals? What are the sustainability credentials of the SNWTP? Drawing on primary and secondary data, the article demonstrates oth that the opportunities and burdens characterising the project are highly uneven and that management systems are evolving rapidly in an attempt to enforce strict water quality targets. Furthermore, while the SNWTP may be helping to resolve groundwater overexploitation in Beijing, it is highly energy intensive, raising questions about its sustainability. Our analysis highlights the need to continue to interrogate the socioeconomic, ,environmental, and political implications of such schemes long after they are officially completed.
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    Beyond contradiction: The state and the market in contemporary Chinese water governance
    Jiang, M ; Webber, M ; Barnett, J ; Rogers, S ; Rutherfurd, I ; Wang, M ; Finlayson, B (Elsevier, 2020-01-01)
    State/market interactions in water governance have long been interpreted in terms of the contradiction between water as a commons and water as a commodity. Recent challenges to this dichotomisation claim that it cannot provide a useful lens through which to interpret the complexity of water resources and their management. This paper provides evidence from China to show that a dichotomous interpretation of state/market interactions has little power to explain the formulation and evolution of water governance regimes. Through an analysis of China's water policy development over the 1998–2018 period, the paper outlines how state control and marketisation are complementary rather than contradictory, collectively contributing to a governance regime that serves broader political and economic goals as much as water management ones. We argue that better understanding of the roles of state and market in water governance requires moving beyond an ‘either-or’ point of departure, and paying greater attention to the ‘both-and’ hybridisation increasingly observed in water management.