Natural Disaster Challenges in China: Key Trends and Insights

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Learning from Experience: Insights from China’s Progress in Disaster Risk Management

Together with climate change, rapid economic growth and urbanization,
China’s intensifying disaster risk is putting a strain on the country’s resources, environment, and ecology.
Against this backdrop, understanding and tackling disaster risk in China has never been more critical. Here are a few key trends and insights about China’s natural disaster challenges.

Diversified types

Major natural disasters in China include meteorological disasters, earthquake and geological disasters, ocean disasters, biological disasters, and forest and grassland fire. Altogether, there are over 100 types of various natural hazards. In the last few decades, almost all types of major hazards except volcanic eruptions have hit China; these include earthquakes, typhoons, floods, droughts and sandstorms, storm surges, landslides and debris flows, hailstorms, cold waves, heat waves, pests and rodent disease, forest and grassland fires, and red tides.

Wide geographic distribution

All provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities) in China are, to varying extents, facing negative impacts from natural disasters.
Two-thirds of Chinese territory suffers from the threat of flooding. The eastern and southern coastal regions and some inland provinces often encounter tropical cyclones. Droughts often occur in the northeast, northwest, and north China, and particularly serious ones are common in southwest and south China. Each province (autonomous regions, municipalities) has experienced destructive earthquakes that measure 5.0 or higher on the Richter scale.
Of China’s territory, 69 percent is made up of mountains and plateaus, which suffers from frequent geological disasters such as landslides, debris flows, and rock collapses due to the complicated geological structure. The coastal region is prone to storm surges and red tides while the country’s forests and grasslands are prone to fires. Half the country’s population and more than 70 percent of Chinese cities are located in areas prone to meteorological, earthquake, geological, and oceanic disasters.