The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and is widely acknowledged as the longest river in the world. Spanning over 6,300 kilometres and flowing through eleven provinces, the Yangtze River is one of China’s most iconic rivers. It is noted for having the world’s largest hydropower plant, the Three Gorges Dam, built in 2003. For many thousands of years, this river has played a pivotal role in China’s development and culture, and is a major source of water for both drinking and for agricultural use. The crucial question is, what sea or ocean does the Yangtze River flow into? The answer is the East China Sea.
Geography of the Yangtze River
The Yangtze River is 6,380 km in length and flows from the glaciers of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in Western China, through the east of the country and finally emptying out into the East China Sea. Along its length, the Yangtze passes through numerous cities such as Chongqing, Wuhan, Nanjing and Shanghai and passes through or borders the provinces Sichuan, Yunnan, Hubei and Jiangsu. It is thought to have been given its name in the late Tang Dynasty as ‘Yangtze’ was the ancient name of the Yangzhou City, one of the stops that the river passes through.
Economic Significance of the Yangtze River
The Yangtze River plays a pivotal role in China’s economy as well as its culture. In fact, as much as 45 percent of China’s population lives within the Yangtze’s watershed. This river has been a major transport route throughout history, and is the focal point of many water conservancy projects. Water from the river is used to generate hydroelectricity, irrigate land and provide sustenance to people living in the surrounding areas. In addition to this, fishing is still prevalent in the Yangtze River, with the fishing industry employing over 500,000 people and helping to support many local businesses.
Environmental Impact of the Yangtze River
The Yangtze is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. This is due to numerous hydraulic engineering projects such as the construction of the Three Gorges Dam and the overuse of fertilizers and chemicals by agricultural farmers. This has drastically reduced the water quality in the river, leading to a decrease in the abundance of aquatic life in and around the river. In order to combat this, the Chinese government has drawn up numerous policies which aim to improve the water quality and protect the environment.
The Yangtze and the East China Sea
The Yangtze River ends in the East China Sea near Shanghai in the province of Jiangsu. The total area of the East China Sea is 1,249,000 km2 and reaches a maximum depth of 3,754 meters. The East China Sea is bordered to the northwest by the Korean Peninsula, and is home to numerous species of fish. Its strategically important location also serves as an economic and political hub, hosting numerous trade routes and military installations.
The Impact of the Yangtze on the East China Sea
The impact of the Yangtze River on the East China Sea can be observed in the way the freshwater from the river impacts the salinity of the sea. As the freshwater from the river travels through the shallow straits, it reduces the concentration of salt in the sea and creates a unique environment for aquatic life to flourish, allowing animals to feed, reproduce and inhabit in the environment. Furthermore, by supplying large amounts of sediments to the sea, the Yangtze River can affect the sea’s currents and help shape the coastline of the East China Sea.
Conclusion and Ongoing Challenges
To conclude, the Yangtze River flows into the East China Sea. This is due to the geography of the river and the strategic importance of this area. Furthermore, the Yangtze River has a great deal of impact upon the East China Sea, both in terms of its environment and its economy. Despite this, much work needs to be done in order to protect the Yangtze River and its surrounding environment, as both are facing numerous challenges such as over-fishing, water pollution and habitat destruction.
The East China Sea’s Biodiversity
The East China Sea is one of the richest seas in the world when it comes to biodiversity. It is home to a diverse range of species, such as dolphins, sea turtles, whales, and a variety of fish, crabs and mollusks. Moreover, the East China Sea is a major fishing hub, hosting a variety of different fisheries, from small-scale coastal fishermen to large-scale trawlers. This activity has had a great impact on the biodiversity of the sea and its surrounding environment. For instance, over-fishing has led to a decrease in the number of fish species as well as a decrease in overall fish stocks.
Protection Measures for the East China Sea
In an effort to protect the East China Sea and its inhabitants, the Chinese government has put in place numerous protection measures. These include the implementation of a “blue mitigation project” which focuses on the sustainable management of aquatic resources, restrictions on fishing and enforcement of regulations on pollution and environmental destruction. Furthermore, a consortium of universities, including as Peking University, Fudan University and Tsinghua University, has set up the East China Sea Biodiversity and Conservation Institute in order to study and protect the ecosystems in the region.
The Political Climate Surrounding the East China Sea
The East China Sea is subject to numerous territorial disputes between China, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam. In recent years, there have been tensions between China and Japan regarding their respective claims in the East China Sea. As a result, due to the strategic importance of this area, the East China Sea has become a hot spot for geopolitical disputes. Furthermore, China has become increasingly active in the region, expanding its presence by installing military bases, constructing artificial islands and conducting military drills.
Conclusion and Future Outlook
Overall, the Yangtze River flows into the East China Sea which plays an important role in China’s economy and culture. The river’s water also affects the salinity and the environment of the sea. Furthermore, numerous protection measures have been implemented in order to protect the biodiversity of the sea, although over-fishing and pollution still remain a major problem. Finally, the East China Sea has become a hot spot for geopolitical disputes due to territorial claims by China, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam. While these disputes remain unresolved, it will be difficult to create a stable environment in the East China Sea.