Once in a Century Flooding Devastates China

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Emergency services responding to floods in Zhuozhou (Image Credit: New York Times)

Record-breaking rain has struck northern and northeast China, causing rivers to overflow and flooding roads and homes. Thousands of people have already been forced to evacuate due to the threat posed by overflowing rivers. In the outskirts of Beijing, deadly flooding has already knocked out power and left whole transportation networks and neighborhoods decimated. More than a million people have already been displaced, and a minimum of 30 were killed in Beijing and in the surrounding Hebei province alone.  

This record-breaking rain comes from the aftermath of typhoon Doksuri which arrived in Beijing and the province of Hebei for about a week before moving on to China’s biggest grain-producing province, Heilongjiang.

Further north in Heilongjiang, rivers that supply water to China’s farmlands overflowed, flooding rice fields, destroying greenhouses used to grow vegetables, and damaging factories. In Harbin, the provincial capital of Heilongjiang, over 162,000 people have evacuated, while 90,000 hectares of crops have been ruined. 

Numerous other cities and villages, such as Shangzhi and Wuchang, have also suffered significant damage to large areas of farmland, with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs warning that such heavy rainstorms could have a “severe impact” on China’s agricultural production. These downpours have already resulted in a 0.9% drop in China’s summer wheat output this year, the first decline in seven years. 

Back in Beijing, the extreme rainfall was the most severe rain to hit China in 140 years, decimating infrastructure on the ground and grounding domestic and international flights. Classes in the city were suspended, despite China’s strict and demanding educational policy. 

In response to the floods, authorities have also opened 155 reservoirs in multiple areas in Hebei and Beijing, which they hope will be able to store excess flood water, allowing the regulation of flood waters to some extent. Eight retention basins have also been used to prevent further flooding by storing excess flood water. 

In a more contreversial move, To protect the capital of Beijing, the Chinese Communist Party ruled to redirect flood waters to neighboring areas. This has led to numerous complaints on social media that there would have been less destruction and casualties if more water had been routed through Beijing’s rivers and canals instead. 

One user on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform, commented 

“Do people in another city have to be superior and sacrifice this place to protect them? I think it’s really unspeakable.”

before quickly being censored. 

Written by Kevin Han

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