The People's Republic of China comprises over 20 percent of the whole Asia region and has more than 20 million hectares of wetlands. These include 11 million hectares of mashes and bogs, 12 million hectares of lakes, both natural and artificial, and 2million hectares of coastal salt marshes and mudflats.
Some of the largest freshwater marshes in Asia occur in north-eastern China. There are over one million hectares of marshes on the Sanjiang (Three Rivers) Plain alone and this region, sometimesknown as the Plain of Reeds, consisting of a vast complex of shallow freshwater lakes, reed beds and peat bogs near the confluence of the Heilong (Amur), Sungari and Wusuli (Ussuri) rivers. Other extensive systems of freshwater lakes and marshes includethe Zhalong Marshes and Xiang Hai Marshes. All three of these wetlands are of great significance as breeding and staging areas for huge numbers of waterbirds, including four endangered species of cranes.
The alluvial plains of the Yellow and YangtzeRiver Basins in eastern China contain the concentration of large freshwater lakes in the country. The Yangtze Basin in particularly is famous for its lakes, such as the Dongting Hu and Shengjin Hu. All are freshwater, many are fringed with extensive reedbeds. They all have communities dependent upon them for water, fish and other products.
In South China, around Lunming, Yunnan Province, are relatively small lakes, some important for wintering waterfowl but also with notable endemic fish. One, Lake Dianchi, has (or perhaps had) twelve fish species confined to its waters.
Most of China's 2.1 million hectares of coastal marshes and mudflats occur in three main areas in the north - at the mouth of the Yangtze River and along the adjacent coast; around the estuary of the Yellow River; and the estuarine system of the Shuangtaizi, Liao and Hun Rivers. Most of the rivers flowing into the Yellow Sea carry large amounts of sediment, resulting in rapid buildup of deltas and continuous creation of new wetlands.