In considering China's safe drinking water challenges we must bear in mind China's stage in the developing nation cycle as well as its enormous population of 1.4 billion.
In 2010, over 600 million Chinese urban residents already enjoyed access to public water supply services, and more than 400 million rural residents had access to clean drinking water. This was primarily due to government-led improvements in water supply and safe drinking water initiatives. On 16 April 2015, State Council issued the ‘Water Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan’ (or known as the “Water Ten Plan”), China’s most comprehensive water policy to date, which will ultimately transform China’s environment & economy.
By comparison, the U.S. began tackling water pollution on a large scale with the passage of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act in 1948. However, it was not until the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and the subsequent passage of the Clean Water Act of 1972, and the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, that the U.S. began in earnest on a systematic assurance of acceptable potable water quality throughout the nation. Despite the U.S. having less than one fourth of China's population, it still took close to two decade to satisfactory see through most of the goals of this legislation (and even today new pollution problems are identified from tine to time in U.S. potable water supplies).
Like the U.S., China focused on its economic growth before it focused on environmental protection. Now that China has made clean water a priority, tremendous strides have been made toward achieving the goals; but given the magnitude of the challenge it will still be some time before China achieves parity with the degree of developed nations' implementation of environmental protection and their environmental standards.
The fact that China is also working with Africa shows its commitment to long-term economic planning, global development (using the "win-win' or "a rising tide lifts all boats" approach), and rejection of a "China First" analog to America's political direction under Donald Trump. As I've mentioned before on this website, one must be more than a little bit familiar with Chinese history and culture to understand why the Chinese undertake the initiatives they do and set the goals that they do, because viewing Chinese actions through the lens of a Western mindset invariably misinterprets China's intentions and fails to see the world as the Chinese do.
A simple example of Chinese wisdom is the one that even this old American learned doing business in America: If you want to maximize profits today and you don't care whose toes you step on, you make deals and then screw people in them by breaching your commitments, but if you want to establish fruitful long-term business ventures (e.g, a "cash cow") you establish respectful, mutually-beneficial relationships with your business partners, keep your promises, and work with them to address their problems as well as your own.
The U.S. has typically bribed African leaders, made them rich and exploited whatever it wanted to. If an African leader came to power who wanted to do business fairly with U.S. competitors, the U.S. simply could have the CIA engineer his demise and replace him with a compliant leader open to the continued bribery.
The Chinese believe that leaders in Africa will come and go so their best hope off forging enduring profitable relations with Africa is to win the hearts and minds of Africans through business initiative that benefit African people -- like I say, it's just a different mindset born of a very different culture from the West (e.g., "win-win" isn't just a slogan, it's a very real, successful business strategy). Does every single Chinese venture in Africa follow this model? No. Are their unscrupulous Chinese businessmen? Sure. But the generalization that the Chinese use a "win-win" approach to business is a reasonably accurate one.