Beijing could be running out of water
Beijing is running out of water according to an environmental group, and may have to start shutting down industry and moving population out within the next decade.
This raises questions over the costs of China's rapid development.
Six weeks before the Olympics, the report said preparations were making matters worse despite claims that they would be the first "Green Olympics".
Water was being diverted to new expanses of greenery and waterways around the city even as rivers across central and northern China were being diverted to the capital to provide basic supplies.
The report, Beijing's Water Crisis: 1949-2008 Olympics, said the Games would consume 200 million cubic metres of water, a million people's annual supply at current rates of reserves.
"With each new project to tap water somewhere else, demand for water only increases, and at an ever greater cost to China's environment and economy," the report, by Canada-based Probe International, said.
Probe has previously questioned China's approach to water management, which focuses on mega-projects such as the Three Gorges Dam and now the South-North water diversion scheme.
This huge proposal could see three canal networks bringing water up from the River Yangtse and Tibet to replenish the Yellow River south of Beijing, and ultimately the capital itself.
The first phase of the project, a 200-mile northern arm of the central network, is almost complete.
Beijing has no major rivers and draws much of its water from underground, mining deeper every year, and by diverting supplies from rural areas of the surrounding province of Hebei.
The debate over whether China's rapid growth is a good or bad development has been raging for some time:
Critics say that China's rapid economic growth leads to pollution in the air and water, and leaves mountains of untreated waste. In one recent incident, an explosion at a Chinese chemical plant spilled benzene into a major river, cutting off the water supply to thousands.
And here is a positive view, although is is from the Chinese Embassy so not too surprising I guess:
China's rapid development has not only brought about jobs and inexpensive goods, but also helps optimize global economic structure, said Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai in Beijing on March 21.
At the China Development Forum 2005, Bo said in the past 20 years, as the growth rate of China is six percentage points more than the growth rate of the whole world, the fraction of China's economy in the world economy has increased from 2.4 percent in 1978 to 3.9 percent in 2003.
The development of China's economy has expanded the fraction that developing economies accounted for in the world economy, which reached 18 percent in 2002, he said.
"If the gap between the north and the south becomes too wide, there will be no peace," Bo said.
By opening itself wider to other economies, China has also optimized the world industrial structure. In the past 20 years, among the 560-billion-US-dollar foreign direct investment, 70 percent is invested in manufacturing.