Pop Quiz: Chaobai River in China

Chaobai River Source Sim Chi Yin for NYTWho knew that the Chaobai River is the main river flowing through Beijing? That was a rhetorical question. You can put your hands down now. But good that you knew. I didn’t.

The New York Times this Sunday runs an article about the new “super city” that will amass Beijing and the surrounding area into a metropolis of about 130 million people. Ah, that’s how many times the size of Canada? Three? Four? Keep your hands down, please.

Story concerns the horrible lack of infrastructure. As one example, it can take an hour wait just to get on a bus from the satellite city of Yanjiao, pictured above, Then it takes up to three hours for the 25-miles to Beijing. They are packed into the buses so tightly that the squishing we have seen in Japan’s commuter trains look like first class. So five hours of travel time per day. But you had figured that out already.

What catches my eye is a photo in the accompanying album. Here is an extract of the pic:

Chaobai River crossing Source- Sim Chi Yin for NYT

The caption reads:

Residents walk in the direction of Beijing on a dirt track across the mostly dried-up Chaobai River, which separates the cities.

And I am wondering, “Mostly dried up??” That sounds like a bit of a problem. I wonder what the internet has to say about this. Not much as it turns out. Even my good ole reliable friend Wikipedia lets me down:

The Chaobai River (Chinese: 潮白河; pinyin: cháobái hé) is a river in the northern China.[1] that is 458 km long flows from the confluence of the Chao and Bai Rivers at the Miyun Reservoir in Beijing Municipality through Hebei Province and into the Grand Canal of the Hai River system in Tianjin Municipality. Its average depth is 2.5 metres.

That’s the entire post. I do find an abstract to a paper looking for causes of the river drying up:

As the only source of drinking water in Beijing being confronted with severe water shortages, the Chaobai River Basin is extraordinarily important.

“Only source of water!”

“Houston. We have a problem.” We have to call Houston, because not detecting a lot of concern from Beijing.

But no worry. The government fixes the problem with a little smoke and … no mirrors required. Just a lot of smoke to cloud the judgement of the artist. (Medical smoke?) Here is what the river really looks like, according to the site I found that is pushing development:

DachangChaobai River Development Area

So green. So watery. Really.

I guess that’s the problem with a centrist regime lead by a powerful leader where the environment has little importance. They can ignore the real problem and then just invent the facts they need. Thank goodness we live in Canada.

Oh. yeah.

Houston …?

Post Script

I need to check the rivers and their location. So, being a good Apple Fan Boy, I use Apple Maps: It produced an enigma:

JanJiao China Apple Maps

Just not a lot there. Beijing is to the left (East). Once you leave the capital towards the west, you fall off the map. In fairness, within the China Wall (their internet wall) there is an amazing set of Apple maps for China, just not for us. Here is roughly the same area in Google Maps:

YanJiao China Google Maps

Now that is a map worthy of the name.

Graphic sources: Excerpts from much larger vistas of the Chaobai River by Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times.


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