Three Gorges Probe

Export-Import bank decision on Three Gorges dam expected today

Three Gorges Probe
May 30, 1996

The United States Export-Import Bank will announce Thursday whether or not it will finance corporate America’s involvement in China’s massive Three Gorges dam.


American companies Caterpillar, Rotec and Voith Hydro have applied for $500 million in loans from the Export-Import Bank, a federal agency which provides insurance and financing to help U.S. firms win contracts abroad. The companies and some members of Congress have lobbied hard for the project, claiming that China will build the dam regardless of American participation.

But Ex-Im support for the dam would go against advice from the White House and the National Security Council. After a 1995 NSC review of the project, the White House asked Ex-Im to "refrain from offering commercial assistance in connection with the Three Gorges project." The White House memo to then Ex-Im Bank president Kenneth Brody cited legal, environmental, financial and human rights concerns as factors in asking Ex-Im to steer clear of the dam.

The Three Gorges dam is the biggest public works project since the Great Wall. It will forcibly resettle 1.3 million people and cause irreparable environmental damage to the Yangtze River valley. Critics contend that the dam, which could cost as much as $75 billion, will be an environmental, economic and social disaster.

"American taxpayers would be put at risk while the economy, environment, and lives of millions of Chinese citizens would be threatened if Ex-Im supports this unsound and politically explosive project," said John Thibodeau, Director of Research for Probe International, a Canadian organization that has monitored the dam for more than a decade.

Meanwhile, the American organization Defenders of Wildlife has threatened to sue Ex-Im if the bank decides to finance Three Gorges contracts. In a letter to the bank’s acting president, Martin Kamarck, Defenders of Wildlife claims American participation in the project "would not only represent an abdication of U.S. environmental and political leadership, but also a clear violation of U.S. law." The letter informs Kamarck that Defenders of Wildlife, along with six other environmental groups, "will sue the Bank if it engages in any action pertaining to the Three Gorges Dam project."


Categories: Three Gorges Probe

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