Water Right Transfer Experiment and the Impact on the Water Resources Management Policy In China: an Overview

Xue Yunpeng, You Liangzhi


From at least the sixth century A.D. onward, China maintained centralized control of large water projects, developed them as state enterprises, and managed them with its vast Confucian bureaucracy. The revolutionary states which succeeded late imperial China, first the Republic of China (1911-1949), and especially the People’s Republic of China (1949-present) did not change these essential features of water policy (Hucker, 1994). During the 1980’s, however, China, began to move away from the planned economy and embraced the global market economy. China retained the structural central command of the national economy, its central bureaucracy, and its planning of titanic state water projects. National governments embarked upon massive water-control and water-supply projects, establishing an unprecedented national presence in distant areas. Such large-scale water development assured the arid regions of much greater and more dependable water supplies, thus attracting unprecedented economic and demographic growth. The development of large-scale irrigation since 1950s has brought higher yields and new development, but created serious water shortage problems and environmental consequences, such as dried up rivers and lakes, declining groundwater levels and land subsidence, salinization and water pollution (Jiao, 2004).

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