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International relations

China has its eyes on water in Russian lake

Plan could devastate ecosystem but earn Russia some cold, hard yuan

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A woman poses for a picture on Olkhon Island in Lake Baikal in September 2016.   © Reuters

IRKUTSK, Russia -- A Chinese proposal to pump water from Lake Baikal, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and carry it across two borders to help alleviate water shortages seems to be a real problem solver.

The Russian lake holds roughly 20% of the world's total unfrozen freshwater, which would be carried to northwestern China and Mongolia, helping agriculture as well as thirsty people and industries along the way.

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