Addressing a meeting of the Credit Suisse Asian Investment 2007 international conference, the expert said there was a shortage of various natural resources, including water, in northern China.
Last March Credit Suisse reported that the surge in economic growth in China required huge natural resources, and factors such as widespread livestock husbandry and the increase in industrial production was fuelling demand for water.
The average Chinese person consumes around 2,100 tons of water per year, Credit Suisse said, in contrast, in Switzerland the figure is 6,600 tons and in the U.S. 8,400.
In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 700 million Chinese are forced to drink water of a quality below the WHO standard.
Flannery said he would not be surprised if China soon asked Russia to supply oil, gas and water, which would not be technically difficult.
Last March, China and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding on natural gas supplies to China. It is expected that from 2011, China will import 60-80 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia every year.
During Chinese President Hu Jintao's official visit to Russia on March 26-28, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said that cooperation in the energy sector had developed smoothly last year, with the construction of oil pipelines well underway and cooperation in natural gas being strengthened.
Russia's rail monopoly Russian Railways said it was ready to deliver up to 15 million metric tons (17.8 million barrels) of oil to China in 2007 if the countries' oil companies signed the relevant contracts.
In November 2002 the Chinese government gave the go-ahead to the South-to-North China Water Diversion project, a hugely ambitious, multi-billion dollar river diversion plan designed to alleviate the water shortage in northern China around Beijing, the Tianjin municipality and Hebei province by diverting water from the south of the country.
Under the project, three south-to-north canals should link the country's four major rivers - the Yangtze River, the Yellow River, the Huaihe River and the Haihe River.
The first and second phases of the east route and the first phase of the middle route will be constructed by 2010. It is expected that by 2008 enough of the infrastructure will be in place to help Qingdao host the water sports during the 2008 Olympic Games.
The total cost of the project, which is still doubted by many experts, is estimated at more than US$22 billion, said water-technology.net, a website for the water industry.
China Daily said Thursday that Beijing would benefit from some 480 million cubic meters of recycled water in 2007, and the volume is expected to grow to 600 million cubic meters in 2008, according to the Beijing Daily newspaper.