According to The New York Times, the past four decades in China have been filled with farmlands and hamlets being replaced by giant metropolitans. More cities mean more factories, which means more workers. Hundreds of millions of Chinese people have stopped suffering from poverty and hardship. 

However, extreme climate-change-related weather is beginning to shine a light on issues that may have been overlooked during the construction of these new giant cities. While China has always dealt with floods, the flood in Zhengzhou and other cities last week (21st of July) killed at least 69 people. 

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In 2019, Kong Feng, a policy professor at the time, wrote that China’s cities flooding is “a general manifestation of urban problems” in the quickly developing country. Roads, subways, and railways replaced forests and fields. Rain could no longer be safely absorbed by the environment. This disruption of the “natural hydrological cycle” is a consequence of prioritizing economic growth over climate resiliency. 

Luckily, China is taking steps towards addressing climate change. Xi Jinping has made climate change a national priority. He is the country’s first leader to do so and plans to create an “ecological civilization.” “We must maintain harmony between man and nature and pursue sustainable development,” said Mr. Xi in a 2013 speech in Geneva.  

In the last two decades, China has quintupled the amount of green space in its cities and has implemented a program for cities like Zhengzhou to be turned into “sponge cities” that absorb rainfall better. Mr. Xi also plans for China to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. 

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