China's natural resources range from fisheries to minerals to rivers and seas. Despite the wealth of raw materials found in China, the large population and uneven distribution of these resources continue to challenge China. But as China explores and exploits these natural resources, the country is taking an increasingly powerful role in the world economy.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Natural resources of China include extensive mineral deposits, fossil fuels, water as rain and in rivers, agricultural products, aquaculture, fisheries and native plants and animals.
Mineral Resources and Raw Materials Found in China
China has extensive deposits of coal, oil and natural gas. Besides these fossil fuels, China is a top producer of aluminum, magnesium, antimony, salt, talc, barite, cement, coal, fluorspar, gold, graphite, iron, steel, lead, mercury, molybdenum, phosphate rock, rare earths, tin, tungsten, bismuth and zinc. China exports antimony, barite, rare earths, fluorspar, graphite, indium and tungsten, and it leads the world in domestic mining of gold, zinc, lead, molybdenum, iron ore and coal.
Water Resources: Rivers and Rainfall
The high mountains and powerful rivers of China provide many opportunities for hydroelectric power. The best potential for hydroelectric power lies in southwest China, providing power in an area lacking in coal resources. The Three Gorges Project on the Yangtze River reached full capacity in 2012, with 32 turbine generators and two additional generators providing 22,500 megawatts of electricity. Hydroelectric power, potentially, could generate 378 million kilowatts for China.
The average rainfall in China amounts to about 20 trillion cubic feet of water. Of this amount, approximately 9 trillion cubic feet of water is available as a resource. China ranks 6th in the world for water resources, behind Brazil, Russia, Canada, the United States and Indonesia.
Agriculture: Products From the Land
About 10 percent of China is farmland. Major crops are rice, wheat and corn as well as barley, soybeans, tea, cotton and tobacco. The country has become a world leader in production of pigs, chickens and eggs. China also has large herds of sheep and cattle. The country's population, about 25 percent of the world's population, severely strains the agricultural resources of China, however. While mechanization is increasing, much of the agriculture still uses traditional labor-intensive techniques.
Aquaculture: Fishing and Fish Farming
China has a long tradition of fresh and saltwater fishing and aquaculture. China has become the world's leader in both fishing and aquaculture. Most of China's offshore area is suitable for marine fisheries and for aquaculture, or raising fish as a crop. Aquaculture in ponds and inland waterways remains a common practice in China. The fishing resources of the South China Sea have become increasingly important as other fisheries in the region have become depleted.
Wildlife, Forests and Other Plants
Among other resources of China is the rich and diverse ecosystem. Many rare and unique organisms live in China including the giant panda, golden monkey, white-flag dolphin, metasequoia and the dove tree. China has created a number of parks and preserves to protect these ecosystems. These conservation practices also serve to improve local economies by encouraging tourism.
In the past, large areas of China's forests were decimated. More remote regions, however, survived. China now has begun replanting and managing the forest regions.
- U.S. Geological Survey: The Mineral Industry of China in 2013
- Mining.com: China Is Burning Through Its Natural Resources
- Encyclopaedia Britannica: Three Gorges Dam
- Encyclopaedia Britannica: China: Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
- China Geological Survey: Mineral Resources of China
- Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Chinese Geography
- People's Daily Online: Natural Resources
- Yale E360: The Dark Legacy of China's Drive for Global Resources
- People's Daily Online: Guizhou Is Leading the Way as Example of Poverty Alleviation Through Tourism
About the Author
Karen earned her Bachelor of Science in geology. She worked as a geologist for ten years before returning to school to earn her multiple subject teaching credential. Karen taught middle school science for over two decades, earning her Master of Arts in Science Education (emphasis in 5-12 geosciences) along the way. Karen now designs and teaches science and STEAM classes.