Chapter 21 of China NTCs deals with the steps China is making to ensure the right to water.

The issue of the blue-gold is involving the entire globe. Since China has a huge population, the concern is increasingly becoming a reason of concern. As reported in World Bank studies, “China’s per capita availability of water is exceedingly low, suggesting the potential for water stress as demand for usable water rises with growth in population and in per capita incomes.” The availability of drinking water is very low and not well distributed within the country. While there is a certain amount of water in the Southern China and Tibet, the quantity of groundwater has been depleted in the North part of China. It has also to be considered that pollution has deteriorated the quality of both surface and ground water. The geography of water demand has been changed also by the transformation of the county’s economy from agriculture-based to industry-based. The protection of a right to water has been debated in several international law forum. The Human Rights Council and the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, as well as many scholars and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), have started to focus on the right to water. China voted to recognize the right to water as a human right in 2010. This recognition put on China the burden to take all the necessary measures to implement the right, developing new policies and rules. In particular, it imposes three types of specific legal obligations: the obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill. Respect means that parties cannot interfere (directly or indirectly) with the enjoyment of the right to water. Protection requires parties to prevent third parties from interfering in any way with the citizens’ enjoyment of water. The third obligation – to fulfill – deals with the obligations to facilitate, promote, and provide fresh water. The article by professor Roberto Soprano describes how China is acting to protect this right in terms of preventing pollution to ensure access to safe drinking water and by guaranteeing its equal enjoyment. What is worth noting is that for now China has not recognized the right to water at a constitutional level. However, it includes a protection of natural resources through a rational use and prohibiting any organization or individual from damaging them. In the secondary sources, professor Soprano highlights the 2002 Water Law of the People’s Republic of China; it provides provisions on water supply and sanitation. It is clear that recognizing the right to water in domestic law is the first step in the proper direction, but it should be accompanied by monitoring and enforcement measures, along with a proper fight against pollution. Among the final observations, the author underlines that China is doing a lot to improve the situation but still millions of Chinese people still do not have access to improved water sources and sanitation. The inequality of treatment between rural and urban populations is one of the main concerns that the Chinese authorities should take into consideration while drafting water policies.