Parched China lures foreign water investors
By Sophie Taylor and Alison Leung
Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:38pm EDT

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) - When Chen Xiangwen first moved to Beijing eight years ago, she expected to be able to drink the tap water. After all, she was living in a city about to host the 2008 Olympic Games.

But like millions of Beijingers, Chen soon discovered the tap water was unfit to drink and was a possible health hazard.

"The tap water had a funny smell, and it seemed like there were all sorts of particles in it," said the 30-year-old consultant. "Once I found a convenient place to buy bottled water, I never looked back."

More than half of the water in China, the world's fourth-largest economy, is unfit to drink. Last year, around 48 million people living there lacked sufficient drinking water.

THIRSTY

China boasts a fifth of the world's population, yet it has only 7 percent of global water resources, according to Fusion Consulting.

The country's per-capita water resources stand at a mere fifth of the world average. More than 70 percent of China's rivers and lakes are polluted, according to Macquarie Research.

"China is experiencing one of its most severe water shortages. We believe this is one of the key issues that will determine China's future in next twenty years," Macquarie analyst Leah Jiang wrote in a recent note.

(Editing by Megan Goldin)

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Original article: Reuters
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