Governmentality and the conduct of water: China's South-North Water…
Governmentality and the conduct of water: China's South-North Water Transfer Project (Rogers 2016)
Cost $20bn, a major feat of engineering, purpose to address the imbalance in the distribution of China's energy resources by transferring water between rivers
Portrayed as politically neutral, environmentally beneficial and an inevitable response to water scarcity in N China
Water is political- analyses in terms of government
Governmentality, space and the Chinese state
The SNWT project as an attempt to steer forms of conduct and render subject and spaces governable and administrable. As a mechanism and machinery of rule.
The spatial dimension of governmentality are particularly important to geographers- the location of individuals in specific sites and built forms, of demography and population distributions across a territory.
Governable spaces are produced through mundane practices associated with the provision of public goods and the governing of everyday lives
Water circulation is part of the political economy of power and also a symbolic and cultural landscape of power.
SNWT can be seen as forms of hydro social governance, directed towards manipulating hydro social relations
China as a fragmented authoritative country with parochial political goals charged with agencies and regions in charge of enforcing policies
In china- multiple sources of authority and a diversity of governmental actors, party-state remains the primary driving force behind national development, techno-scientific rationality influences most decisions
The South-North Water Transfer Project
Take abundant water in the Yangtze River basin to the less abundant northern regions- along Shanghai and Beijing where water will form a vital component of the growth of both cities. 1/3 of water for Beijing will come from the project
World's largest inter basin transfer scheme, connecting 4 major river basins and requiring coordinated management of their retrospective urban, industrial, agricultural and ecological water needs.
Forms of visibility
Dean (2010) picturing that defined what is to be governed, and how relations of authority are constituted in space-
Imaginary of a water-rich south versus a water-scarce north, a visual and spatial problematicisation
Making water legible at this national scale, an object of national regulation, and put the state's resources to their full and profitable use.
Renders invisible the anthropogenic drivers of water insecurity in north China, huge increases in agriculture outstipped supply of water
The Yangtze is seen as having richer water and enough water in the lower reaches to be pumped north
The whole project is described as ensuring China's economic prosperity, social stability and environmental improvement. To rescue Beijing's falling groundwater and address the associated risk of subsidence, also as a reconfiguration of here growth and development should be concentrated
Must use technical means to achieve ends, such as water pricing and procedures for water transfers
An institutional structure capable of managing water flows and pollution is being pieced together , placing responsibility with the Ministry for Environmental Protection
The SNWT Construction Committee Office is seeking to embed itself in the ongoing management regime
Water pricing instrument central to the management of SNWT. Part of the planning-market rationalities of the Chinese governmentalities that seek to produce governable subjects and spaces. The pricing system does not operate free from government intervention, not from central-provincial relations
Project best understood not as 'hydraulic bureaucracy but as thick regulatory structures with defined responsibilities and an imprecisely defined accountability
Forms of knowledge that arise from and inform the activity of governing, government is made possible by and constrained by what can be thought and not thought
The SNWT prioritises the use of diverted water, not water-saving measures, firstly transferring water then seeking to control pollution
SNWT project asks questions of, forms plans around and mobilises the knowledge of water supply, water is characterised in technical terms, which renders it non-political
SNWT instead as an important facility for saving North China's crisis of water to a now 'strategic water reserve' to ensure there is enough water hen they truly need it
Forms of identification
People and places in 'source' and 'receiving' areas and forms of conduct expected of them
Process that occurs through interventions into the economic structure, settlements and landscapes of source areas
Economic and social planning for these water-source areas is therefore now being dictated by the NDRC in the interests of protecting water quality
The SNWTelicits and promotes various qualities and
attributes, evident in descriptions of source areas as
‘shouldering a great responsibility’, and sacrificing their own interests and development for the project
These compensation arrangements – seemingly mundane fiscal practices – are central to reconfiguring hydrosocial relations between these locales and consolidating the formation of ‘source’ and ‘receiving’ identities.
Attempts are being made to shift people, to shift boundaries and to designate particular development paths, all of which
have spatial effects
certain cities and counties are identified as source areas that have responsibilities and subordinate interests with respect to those of water receiving areas.
. Attempts are being made to shift people, to shift boundaries and to designate particular development paths, all of which have spatial effects.
The SNWT project rescales hydrosocial relations, forming new identities through the problematisation and visualisation of water at a national scale
An analysis of these dispersed practices of governing that constitute the SNWT project reminds us that the Chinese state is not a universal, unchanging embodiment of power, but a relational ensemble that is reproduced through changing practices.