A grocer's in Urumqi, Xinjiang. (File photo/Xinhua)
Though China's western and northern areas are important food production regions for the country, the overuse of water resources has severely damaged the local ecosystem, reports the Chinese-language weekly Economic Observer.
Western and northern regions have always been cold and arid places which are not supposed to support so many people, said Shen Yong, professor at the Cold and Arid Environmental and Engineering Research Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, adding that the government only cares about economic output in these areas instead of the sustainability of local resources.
In Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, around a dozen tributaries of the Tarim river have been lost because of the overuse of water for agricultural purposes.
The country should import more agricultural products to cope with the problem, said Shen, saying water resources should be prioritized.