Twelve provinces in northern China suffer from water scarcity or acute water scarcity. Around a thousand rivers, a year has disappeared over the last quarter of a century. While the Chinese Communist Party has put considerable resources into combatting water pollution, that will not make a significant difference. Nor will water transfers, including the famed South-North Water Transfer Project, or desalination. The biggest problems come on the demand side and involve a number of politically sensitive measures, which will test the resilience of the CCP’s governance model. In March this year, the Party put out a water conservation plan for the ‘Jinjinji’ region (Beijing, Tianjin Hebei), which is one of the hardest hit. This ‘experimental zone’ will garner lessons for the wider north of China. But time is running out. Charles Parton will assess the scale of the problems, look at the measures which Beijing needs to adopt, and assess whether the CCP’s interests and governance model will allow it to avoid severe economic dislocation.