Three Gorges Probe

Chinese government bracing for civil uprisings

Three Gorges Probe
March 7, 1995

Chinese officials are bracing for violent uprisings as they force more than one million people to move to make way for the massive Three Gorges dam, according to internal security documents leaked to Human Rights Watch/Asia.

The internal report of the Wanxian Prefectural Public Security Department calls for Chinese police forces to prepare "to meet the combat-readiness needs of all units in the Three Gorges area." The project’s resettlement plan could spawn massive civil unrest, the authors predict, and security measures must be taken to "uphold the policy of speed and severity in striking timely blows at crimes and criminals that sabotage Three Gorges construction and relocation."

If completed, the dam on China’s Yangtze River would be the world’s largest, creating an inland sea the length of North America’s Lake Superior and submerging more than 100 towns and villages. It would also displace 1.3 million people, and flood 14,500 hectares of the best farmland in China.

Publicly, Beijing has defended the project, calling it "an epic accomplishment in the history of water control projects," and saying it will generate needed electricity, provide flood control, and ease navigation on the Yangtze. Privately, however, as the leaked documents reveal, officials are quietly preparing for "civil disputes, violent fights and massive armed melees between groups of people."

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