BEIJING -- China has made drinking water accessible for 340 million people in rural areas since it started tackling the shortage, said Chen Lei, minister of water resources, on Tuesday.
Chen made the remarks at an ongoing water and sanitation roundtable.
From 2001 to 2007, the central government allocated 24 billion yuan (3.4 billion US dollars), which, together with the 22.7 billion yuan provided by the local government and the people, made safe drinking water available to 128 million in rural areas, the minister said.
"We now aim to basically solve the safety of drinking water in rural areas by 2015."
The quality of drinking water affected people's health, and it was of vital importance to provide clean water to the people, he added.
The country aimed to make safe water available for another 160 million rural residents from 2006 to 2010. Meanwhile, the government planned to strengthen protection of drinking water safety in 205 cities and 350 counties during this period, Chen said.
China currently has about 200 million rural people who do not have access to safe drinking water.