Chinese authorities have acknowledged that, while progress has been made in recent years, securing the country against encroaching deserts may take centuries. From Jonathan Watts in The Guardian:
China has gained a sliver of ground in its ancient battle against the desert sands, the government announced today, though it warned another 300 years may be needed to solve “the most serious ecological problem facing the country”.
A survey showed more than a quarter of China’s land remained either degraded or lost to sand and gravel due to a combination of a naturally dry climate, centuries of over-cultivation and decades of excessive demand on water and soil from the world’s biggest population and fastest growing economy ….
Despite the world’s biggest tree-planting campaign, the relocation of millions of “eco-migrants” and restrictions on herding and farming, the report noted the “desertification trend has not fundamentally reversed” ….
The report said desertification continued to pose a “serious hidden danger” to China’s security and its capacity for economic development.
Desert reclamation, as described in a previously featured piece from Beijing Review, places heavy demands on already strained water resources, particularly in the high west of China. This problem has prompted such radical proposals as the pumping of seawater 2000 kilometres inland from the Bohai Sea to Xinjiang.